Wildbad Weltbad

Susanne Mariacher

The performance Wildbad - Weltbad in the alpine resort Bad Gastein focuses on the origin and the particularity of the town - its hot springs - through the act of bathing. Drawing on the tradition of spa culture, the project brings private bathing rituals out into the public space. The repeated minimal intervention thus shifts the perception of Bad Gastein as a spa for tourists towards alternative scenarios.

The performance Wildbad - Weltbad in the alpine resort Bad Gastein focuses on the identity of the town - a touristic destination - through the act of public bathing. For several weeks repeated steam baths over sewer covers fuming of hot steam were taken in public, contrast baths in warm fountains and waist-deep snow on traffic islands were undertaken, and drinking cures hopping from hot spring to hot spring performed. Drawing on the traditions of spa culture and seeking for the precious warm resource on the streets, the work brings out newly interpreted, private rituals of regeneration into the wintry public space of the tourist resort. A small equipment - a steaming and changing coat, towels, essential oils and two vessels for drinking and bathing in the hot water - created an ephemeral spa infrastructure in the various locations of the performance. The repeated minimal intervention criticizes the total commodification of the remote village and instead pleads for the imagination of alternative scenarios. It is thereby shifting the perception of the role of public space. By means of a deeply personal appropriation of resources, the project takes a stance for the appreciation and preservation of cultural heritage but at the same time calls for reclaiming commodified touristic space. The performance was documented and transmitted into a video installation accompanied by a small publication referring to historical spa guidebooks.

© Susanne Mariache


January 2019
Bad Gastein
Susanne Mariacher