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     H-OM 2107 (work in progress)   The tradition of bathhouses and public bathing stretches back thousands of years, and across many societies. In some cultures, it holds religious significance, while in others it offers certain social benefits, such as bringing together people of different classes, and placing them in a situation of direct physical proximity and interaction. With the advent of modernity, the practice of bathing quickly changed from a group activity to a private one, confined to the four walls of our bathrooms.  Statistics show that people in Western society, known to promote individualism over collectivism, are struggling with all kinds of socially related issues, from social phobia to body image. The homogeneous images of the perfect body in magazines, on billboards, and on TV, manufactured by advertisement companies, has skewed people’s perception of social norms as well as what the human body essentially is: a biological organism that houses the life force and consciousness residing within it— rather than a perfectly packaged commodity made to fit a particular taste and generate wealth for the fashion industry.  Bringing the art of communal bathing is one avenue for the individual to get in touch with our corporeality at the collective level. It can both help to bridge the gap between the “me and them” attitude, by the simple virtue of functioning as a social gathering place, and can also address the problem of body image. It is easy to avoid facing our bodies while showering or bathing alone. Many of us can attest to avoiding looking at ourselves in the bathroom mirror because our distorted self-image makes us painfully uncomfortable. However, in a public space, where we are exposed to other bodies that reflect the existence of our own, we are made to remember that real bodies are diverse in shape, size, color, texture, and smells, and that there is no such thing as a perfect or normal body.  H-OM is an environment that aims to re-invent the historical social function of the original community bath houses by combining some of the most useful elements from various ones around the world, and create a new model that supports visitors in experiencing comfort in a social setting, as well as in their own skin.
       
     
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   THIS HOLY HOLE (2010)     It is said that the womb is the safest and most comfortable environment we have ever lived in. It is furthermore said that coming into the world is the biggest shock that we have ever experienced and that within each one of us, there is a deep yearning to return to the comfort and safety that we once experienced in our mother’s womb.    After creating the following installation and inviting about 30 people to spend time in it, I was fascinated to see the wide range of responses that visitors had. Some felt grounded and calm, others nearly had panic attacks and had to leave the womb immediately.  Few entered into a state of deep meditation and some were reminded of past experiences that were uncomfortable.    The photos presented here are of myself. No photographs were taken of the visitors.