Excerpt from Vanessa Lim Shu Yi’s “The swimming pool as a heterotopic space” (2016)
The Island, the Pool and Play
“ …the pool that is used for ‘play’ is structured around indulgent twists and curves that are architecturally and spatially the exact opposite of the ‘productive’ swimming pool. Modern day water parks are highly qualitative spaces that are collaged from various images of Utopia, mediated through encounters with water. These parks often take the form of artificially built and relatively isolated ‘islands’. They are often divided into various thematic zones where participants can enjoy paradise island fantasies as they meander through “yet more miniature secluded places, like secret springs and hidden creeks, grottoes and ponds” that exploit the delight of having stumbled upon the “sweet surprise” of a completely tame “semisavage wilderness”.01 Islands and swimming pools share an inverse relationship and are strongly “bound together by their negative-positive character”.02 While the island is an isolated mass of land floating in the endless sea, the swimming pool is a landlocked container of liquid, an urban ‘oasis’ amidst a concrete desert. If the swimming pool is our attempt at containing the ocean, then the island offers to us a “clean, manageable piece of nature that could be possessed, chartered and defended”.03 Fundamentally, the waterpark caters to our desire to escape, and by allowing ourselves to participate in its activities, we enter into an illusory space whose qualities interfere with our usual experience of time (Foucault’s fourth principle) and arrive into a void of timelessness.”
01 A.P. van Leeuwen, Springboard, 63
02 Ibid., 66
03 A.P. van Leeuwen, Springboard, 63
A.P. van Leeuwen, Thomas. The Springboard in the Pond: An Intimate History of the Swimming Pool. Cambridge, Mass.: The MIT Press, 1999
The title La Bananale Di Vanana is a play on the Italian name for the Venice Biennale, La Biennale Di Venezia. The exhibition is the artist’s first solo show at the gallery.