The Laundromat


Ca. 5m W x 7m D x 4m H (16' W x 23' W x 13' D).

A standalone structure consisting of three walls, a three-part ceiling and a floor; most of it covered with tinware. The structure contains a built-in irrigation system made of a canister in the base of the installation and a water pump. Timers of three out of five washing machines contained in the room are broken; other machines are not in usable condition. The Laundromat partially utilizes elements of RED RAIN project (2000), but it is in no way a continuation nor extension of it.

year: 2013

Immigrants and wares flow in through the southern border. Their situation quickly deteriorates, especially in the case of women. Everything has to go through the “laundering” process in order to proceed further, towards the northern border.

The Laundromat as a survival strategy.

Inside the former Capilla de Las Animas chapel, which is a part of Ex Teresa, the rain falls constantly – and therefore whoever tries to do laundry in there, will either get completely soaked or even washed away. If, however, such an attempt is even partially successful in the pouring rain, it may become a hiperrealistic dimension of a social discourse. Washing machines with their broken timers do not make the Laundromat a negotiation-friendly place.

Initial concept called for the Laundromat to be inhabited by a water snake for the duration of the exhibition. A few “ladies” from the neighborhood were hired for a small amount of money to participate in the exhibition opening. A sign with admission hours for the Laundromat placed by the entrance to the Capilla de Las Animas for the duration of the exhibition, informing the locals when its washing machines can be used for free.

Ex Teresa Center for Contemporary Art is directly adjacent to the National Palace, the seat of the president. In this context, the Palacio Nacional operates as a subsidiary of the laundromat at Ex Teresa, similarly as the pyramid (or rather, remains of one) located on the opposite side of the gallery building. Ex Teresa is a modern institution, established on the ruins of the pyramid, on the top of which a sanctuary of rain used to be located; now, it begins to rain inside the ex Teresa, which is on the verge of collapse both as a building and as an institution. All three buildings – ex Teresa with its laundromat, the presidential palace, and the ruined pyramid – are integral parts of the design, functioning as an unified space, belonging to the same time. Their historical and aesthetic context is irrelevant.

Rain, traditionally perceived as a cleansing force, is utilized here as an acoustic phenomenon. To improve the acoustics, most of the elements in the laundromat were covered with tinware, which enhances dull and monotonous sound of raindrops hitting its surface and tunes it to the proper frequency.

The Laundromat - video