Bethany Wells, 26 January 2014

Really great conversation around the themes of WARMTH, nakedness and the idea of

‘disarming’. Some notes from the discussion:

- Finland / culture of the body

- Sensory; being with temperature

- Etiquette and culture around sauna / bathing / gender / body

- What causes the different cultural behaviours / norms around the sauna space and in

what contexts is it appropriate or realistic to start playing with these

- Draws focus to small behaviours and the detail of the culture around body, being a

body, dressing, looking, sitting, proximity

- recognition of the vulnerability of the situation

What doors could you go through to access this space/project? We had a discussion

around exploring potential different audiences for this kind of work:

- British naturists

- Live art practice / SPILL festival / knowing audience

- local communities; how would a space be received in different places e.g. rural/urban

- existing saunas; how could they be curated differently / to an unexpected audience

- kink/BDSM/radical faeries/ ‘after Pandora’/ Clare Black: how would these groups

read or use the project

More notes:

- ULU, 12-2 weekly naked swim

- Queensway, North London, a swimming pool with naked sessions, has had a

campaign for compulsory swimwear. Where do our anxieties come from around this?

- the joy of the feeling of swimming naked

- what conversation happens in a sauna? How can this be influenced through

curation? Form vs content, one influencing the other

- naked bike rides / activist networks

- barrier or threshold is different to different people

- sexualisation of the body

- fears, especially regarding young people, threat of paedophilia, nakedness as a

‘danger zone’

- senses ‘at play’

- the concept of being ‘only’ human, not a role/job/status, leaving

- what legal frameworks exist around nakedness

- what would the project be to different audiences?

Trials / tests:

Taking storytelling / singing into an existing sauna spaces

- Adrian Howells: confessional 1:1 piece BAC

- Japanses bathing etiquette / Holcombe Bay / naturist communities

- The concept of dynamic / people being ‘rattled’, different thresholds of comfort /


- different things ‘disarm’ different people; it can be a relief to be in a women only/men

only space

- ‘all genders’ vs gender segregation. When is M/F only a disarming/empowering

concept, when is it terrifying/limiting. How to acknowledge and create safe and

interesting spaces for all genders.


I'm building a mobile wood-fired sauna, and will be opening it out to collaborators

become curated / programmed as an alternative space for researching performance +

storytelling practices. I'd come to the day and called the session wanting to get clarity

on how to present the project but came away with a much richer and wider set of

possibilities. I started to see a whole palette of audiences, framings, research +

potential for this to be a much wider research + practice investigation. Especially

interested in the idea of developing very different audiences / interactions with the

same space. Thank you to the people who were there, and I look forward to

developing the work with your contributed energy + inputs.

Bethany Wells: report DandD9



naturist, performance research, nakedness, sauna, nudity, warmth, culture, the body,

Culture, Storytelling, storytelling