Scenarios of the Pool - After Blue Interval

Live performance at the Pioneer Building swimming pool,

Former Pioneer Health Center, Peckham, London.

Project developed in collaboration between Lea Collet, Marios Stamatis and Natalija Paunic.

Performed by: Alex P Bickel, Lea Collet, Emily Linard, Paola Napolitano, Jeremiah Olusola, Marios Stamatis. With support from Pioneer Health Foundation and Goldsmiths Annual Fund

Camera and photography: Teal Griffin, Rosa Doornenbal, Natalia Janula, Aleksandar Bursac,

Video edit by Collet & Stamatis

 

view at AQNB

1

 

A swimming pool is a recreational facility with a very familiar and repetitive typology, standard dimensions, service rooms and always built for the same purpose. Marc Auge described these interchangeable spaces as non-places, which appear to have no historical, geographical or cultural distinctiveness, other than the one of their designated purpose (like airports, hotels and shopping malls, swimming pools could also be located anywhere).

Being such a standardized model in a technological sense, a pool is a very basic architectural prototype, maybe even as abstract as architecture can get. Precisely because of this quality, a pool - contrary to how Auge defined the contested category of non-place - has a great potential to create memories of a place and to be explored as a situation.

Often a symbol of leisure and relaxation, associated with health and well-being, a pool enables a special social contact and interaction, skilfully facilitating both physical exposure and intimacy. Once we enter the area of the pool, an unspoken social contract is activated: suddenly, it becomes OK that we are showing much more skin, and all conversations are patinated with a special colloquial tone.

 

A fluctuating activity is framed into a rectangular shape, imitating a natural occurrence while being entirely artificial; with water as a main protagonist, a pool allows us to rest our eyes and bodies on its surface.

 

2

In some of the things outlined above, a swimming pool is much like an exhibition space or a stage, especially in its potential to add particular meanings to things said and done within its constraints. 

Scenarios of the Pool explores this potential; it looks at the possibility of a stage as a place of leisure, juxtaposed to the spatial quality of the pool as a vessel. 

3

 

Let's imagine a scenario of the pool. As the audience is guided from the gate to the interior space of the art-deco building in Peckham, they catch a glimpse of how it feels to live in the former health research center. Studios and labs are now transformed into luxurious apartments with full length windows and a private swimming pool, which remains the center piece of this building even with its purpose having been changed.

The presence of the pool becomes real once the image seen through the glass in the corridors is intensified by the smell of chlorine.

The audience is sat around the pool and joined by the residents, some of whom are watching through the interior windows placed around the pool.

 

4

 

As the performance unfolds, the viewers are occasionally splashed by water. The sound of pool sides and filters is at times louder than the sound of words being spoken; the words themselves echo in the space, dissolving in water and disappearing in the lantern. The space is tall and almost sacramental, with the glass roof top and light coming from above (even in the night, with the lights placed on the edges of the ceiling). 

 

The performers tell the story about the Pioneer Health Center in a language familiar to a contemporary museumgoer. Narration is subjugated by music and dance, with bodies both in isolation and interaction, all the time conversing with water as the only premise that clearly separates this cube from the white cube. With uncanny foam sculptures floating about the pool, communication becomes visual and gestural, rather than verbal. The interpretation of a former health center as a story about love is both subjective and responsive to the contemporary ideas and misconceptions about collective mental and physical health.

 

5

All who are involved in the event come together in a tacit democratic setting; the space itself is on display.
 

 



*

Events that are part of 'Scenarios of the Pool' series all took place in 2017, July - October.

Three consecutive parts of the project are, chronologically, a workshop (Functions and Fictions), a performance (After Blue Interval) and an exhibition, all deliberately focusing on the swimming pool both as a case-study (architectural object as curatorial subject) and an environment (exhibition space). They were originally conceived with an idea to look at architecture as a subject of representation and exhibition: the project considers the role of human body and action as tools for measuring, and thus representing spaces.