Business as usual

Year: 2005

Medium: Social Engaging Project and actions in a local laundromat

Dimensions: Variable

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Wasserette (laundromat in Dutch) is an interactive performance developed in collaboration with photographer Ximena Davalos, as part of the project Business as Usual (June 2005) facilitated by Egied Simons. Business as Usual witnessed 20 artists perform interventions across 20 shops in the Old North of Rotterdam from 28 May to 25 June 2005.

Inspired by a launderette’s function as an inherently diverse and accessible community gathering space, Wasserette invited people from the multicultural neighbourhood to bring old clothes and participate in dye-ing them different colours – to metaphorically represent the diversity in skin colours and cultures within the city. Davalos produced portraits of the owners and users of the launderette, which were hung on the walls throughout the project. Wasserette created an intentional and comfortable space for community members to have conversations and share stories while serving as a growing visual memory archive of personal and collective narratives in the neighbourhood. The work successfully received positive repercussions from local TV and Rotterdam city centre. 

Although Waserette brings people together, it reminds viewers of creeping gentrification in most working class neighbourhoods. Traditional retailers and family trades slowly close to make way for luxury flats that cast a spotlight on the yawning social and financial divides.