6 till 30 August 2020

Washing Hands

Building Conversation | NL

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Boulevard wholeheartedly connects with the city and its inhabitants, particularly now. We asked ten makers, whom we’ve trusted for years, to create something especially for ‘Powered by Boulevard’. These projects are made for and sometimes with specific groups from the city. Their progress can soon be followed online by everyone.

Four hands, soap, towels, a bowl of water and mutual curiosity. Those are the ingredients of the installation Washing Hands, with which Building Conversation visits semi-public places this summer. “We have been sitting at home for a long time”, says visual artist Daan ‘t Sas. “A lot of our contacts were online, in digital environments. We would almost forget about our physical life. Washing Hands helps you remember how it feels to touch or be touched. Every touch is an encounter, a conversation – or the start of one.”

Attention, awareness and encounter
His Washing Hands is brilliant in its simplicity. The protocol: participants can simply stop by spontaneously. Every time two people, who are most likely complete strangers, are matched to one another. During their shared moment they take their places, after having read a short manual. Between them they find a washbasin, and a transparent screen separates them, due to corona prevention measures. For fifteen minutes they take turns in washing each other’s hands. “It is a ritual that has something of a Japanese tea ceremony. Attention, awareness and encounter are key words,” Daan says.

Last June he put this concept to the test in his hometown. At the Amsterdam based mental health institution Arkin - which include Jellinek and NPI – staff, residents and clients could register for a session. “What I saw happening there? The encounters varied immensely, partly due to the degree of surrender. Some people put the accent on the ‘cleansing’ aspect. Others turned the ritual into a hand massage.” He also witnessed touching situations. “A psychiatrist and a female client, who are neighbors outside the facility, hadn’t been able to talk to each other for a long time, due to Covid-19. For them Washing Hands was a double reunion.” Prolonged touching can even stir up or reinforce l’amour: “After their first session, two residents of Arkin, who already had something going on between them, asked if they could do the experience again.”

Washing Hands was developed under the flag of Building Conversation, a collective of makers/artists we know well at Boulevard. They also created To Care as Caress.

Concept and execution
Daan ’t Saswith Lotte van den Berg

Dates and locations
• Design Museum Den Bosch
De Mortel 4
Thurs. 6 through Sun. 9 and Tues. 11 through Sun. 16 August
11 a.m. – 5 p.m.

• Babel
Hinthamerstraat 74
Thurs. 6 through Sat. 8 and Mon. 10 through Sat. 15 August
10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

• Willem Twee kunstruimte
Boschdijkstraat 100
Thurs. 6 through Sun. 16 August
Mon. through Fri. 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Sat. and Sun. 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Participation is free of charge, on a first come, first served basis. On the day of your choice you can register at the location. Every 30 minutes 2 people can commence their experience, which lasts about 20 minutes.

Location Diverse locaties
Running time 15 min.
Theaterfestival Boulevard thanks:
  • Gemeente 's-Hertogenbosch
  • Den Bosch Partners
  • Provincie Noord-Brabant
  • Fonds Podiumkunsten
  • VSBfonds
  • Fonds21
  • Vriendenloterij Fonds
  • Creative Europe Programme (EU)
  • Gieskes-Strijbis Fonds
  • Dioraphte
  • VandenEnde Foundation
  • Fonds ZOZ
  • Jeugdfonds Sport & Cultuur
  • Jan van Hoof Galerie
  • Apap
  • Feminist Futures
  • Performing Gender