empathy

Off the Deep End

High ceilings, sterile tile floor and walls, the slight lingering scent of chlorine from years past (or maybe that’s just my imagination) – Stattbad Wedding, a former Prussian bathhouse, is everything you’d expect from a public swimming pool, minus the drained pools and lack of swimming… at least for those of us who are sober.  Having been completely transformed into a venue for art, music, and experimental performances, Stattbad Wedding still maintains the community and recreation feel that a public pool would offer. 
 
No Diving Allowed
 
The best thing about Stattbad Wedding is how they use and manipulate the space and structures of the building. The first time I visited for was for one of their famous late-night parties full of people dancing in pools under disco balls and diving boards. Electronic music also filled the small, pipe-lined boiler room basement. Another time, there was a makeshift skate ramp constructed in one of the pools. It looked incredibly dangerous, but also incredibly cool. 
 Stattbad Wedding
An extraordinary location! Stattbad Wedding, Photo: Julie Anne Miranda-Brobeck

Each time, my favorite thing at Stattbad Wedding is taking a tour of  the alternative artwork on display in the former shower stalls and locker rooms (don’t worry, nowadays people keep their clothes on for the most part). Most memorable is a massive portrait of someone who is likely the idol of most Stattbad Wedding visitors – Friedrich Nietzsche. Works from well-known Berlin street artists is also scattered throughout the building. Sometimes you can even catch an artist in the act of creating, armed with spray cans and stencils.
 
Video-DJing in the Pool?!
 
 
In addition to street, or pool, art painted directly onto the walls, Stattbad Wedding also offers installations and performances in the swimming pools throughout the year. In an event called Diffraktion, Stattbad Wedding pairs up annually with LaborBerlin e.V. for unforgettable analogue film festivals. This year’s film festival was during the Berlinale and offered a nice alternative view to film-making. One performance mashed up clips from famous movies, like Bond movies, with live distortion effects. 
 
video-djingAnalogue Film Festival, Diffraktion, 2012, “Mole/Hole Therapy # 2: My Vomit”
Juan David Gonzales Monroy & Anja Dornieden (16mm projectors) Lewis Watkins & Tobias Duvefjord (live music), Courtesy of Stattbad Wedding, LaborBerlin e.V. Photo: Julie Anne Miranda-Brobeck

 
During the film festival, I caught up with visiting NYC film producer, Lauren Rayner to get her perspective on the film madness and “video-djing.” Here is a snapshot of what she had to say: 

 “When you first walk in, you’re like ‘what have I gotten myself into?’ It’s a semi-dingy gymnasium space with highly unflattering fluorescent lighting; basically, the opposite of what you’d think of a trendy art-party. However, as the exhibit unfolded I found the space extremely inspiring. I found myself wanting to stage plays, shoot a film there; the vast emptiness leaves a lot to the imagination.”


So there you have it. A visit to Stattbad Wedding is definitely worth it – we promise you’ll be inspired by whichever art installation or show you catch,  just make sure to watch your step.
 
Stattbad Wedding  Opening Times Vary, see Stattbad website for more information