Schwimmen in Geld
Sckellstraße 12, Dortmund
– 21 September 2018
The exhibition “Schwimmen in Geld – Private Indoor Swimming Pools of the German Economic Miracle” is taking place to mark the European Cultural Heritage Year 2018 as part of the “Big Beautiful Buildings. When We Built the Future” campaign organised by the Stadt Bau Kultur NRW and TU Dortmund University. The aim of the campaign is to rediscover, or even encounter for the first time, buildings from the 1950s to the 1970s.
Richard Schmalöer has set himself the task of capturing post-war swimming pools in photographs and illustrating how a high standard of living with a certain degree of decadence developed from the years of crisis. There were hardly any public swimming baths, and so it was a sign of prosperity when you built your own in your house. Richard Schmalöer’s parents’ house had one, which this Dortmund-based architect and photographer uses today as an event room. He is particularly interested in post-war reconstruction, which, thanks to the economic miracle, resulted in a rapid rate of prosperity for some of the population, for which private swimming pools are a symbol.
The exhibition is framed by a work by his daughter Johanna and her friend Lukas Klietsch, who transformed the anteroom of the former swimming pool into a water sound installation. They try to set possible scenarios that may have taken place in the swimming pools to music, such as parties and children’s birthdays, but also moments of absolute peace. Schmalöer does not only want to show the active years of swimming pool use, but also the subsequent abandonment of many pools due to rapidly rising electricity, gas, and oil prices. In these private swimming pools, he sees a kind of undiscovered post-war building typology, which he wants to make accessible in his photographs, collected over thirteen years. An illustrated book by Schmalöer with the same name as the exhibition was published by Verlag Kettler at the end of 2017.