It’s Cold Outside, So Bushwick’s SIGNAL Gallery Decided to Build a Sauna

Pack your bathing suit for your next trip to Brooklyn.

Hayden Dunham.
Photo: Katie McCurdy.
Watermark (2016)Photo: Courtesy of SIGNAL gallery.

Watermark (2016)
Photo: Courtesy of SIGNAL gallery.

If their latest mix of paintings, sculptures, and sound works fail to entice, SIGNAL gallery is hoping you’ll come (and stay) for a built-in sauna.

In Watermark, the Bushwick gallery’s forthcoming group exhibition, visitors can expect a dimly lit space filled with works by previous presenters, including John Dante Bianchi, Alexandra Drewchin, and Hayden Dunham. And if guests are so inclined, they may (or may not) choose to participate in the show’s steamy attraction.

“It’s not your traditional cedar sauna,” gallery director Kyle Jacques told artnet News in a phone conversation. “It’s entirely fabric and organic material.” Jacques told artnet News that the sauna was conceived after talks of creating an experience that responded to the cold weather. The resulting centerpiece, completed in collaboration with Frank Traynor, the artist behind The Perfect Nothing Catalog, is their solution.

Jacques reassured us that the structure is up to code. The electrically-powered steam room hits maximum capacity with six participants, and groups have roughly 10–15 minutes to sweat their toxins out before the next batch is shuttled in. For those curious about dress code, the gallery is encouraging guests to pack a swimsuit, but is providing towels and flip flops free of charge, just in case.

Hayden Dunham.<br>Photo: Katie McCurdy.

Hayden Dunham.
Photo: Katie McCurdy.

Steam rooms as installation art isn’t an entirely new concept. In 2000, artist Pia Lindman presented a public sauna at the original “Greater New York” at MoMA PS1. For Peforma 13, Rashid Johnson hosted his live re-imagining of Dutchman, an Obie Award winning theatrical play written in 1964 by LeRoi Jones, at the Russian and Turkish Bathhouse. And just last week, Watermark participant Hayden Dunham helped Nicolas Lobo turn Red Bull’s studio into a giant spa.

The allure of the sauna is sure to attract a crowd, and according to Jacques, previous shows sans-sauna have already seen as many as 200–400 visitors. To ameliorate this, the gallery is moving their opening to a Saturday and turning it into a five-hour affair. “We figured that by having it over the course of [an afternoon], it’ll help with the flow.”

Watermark will hold its opening reception on Saturday, February 27th, from 1:00 p.m.–6:00 p.m. Admission is free.

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