“SANATORIUM originated in 2011 as a commission from the Guggenheim Museum in NYC. It was a site-specific installation in downtown Brooklyn as it was intended to present itself not as an art exhibition but as a prototype institution in direct engagement with the urban context. It occupied a thousand square meter space (1000 m2) on what was a former hardware shop. The experiment consisted on opening a clinic, not to heal the body, but the mind and the spirit while presenting itself under the same visual aspect of medical institutions that take care of the body. In that sense, one would walk into this sanitized environment, where one was received by a person dressed in a lab coat, who performed a sort of triage that would help the ‘patient’ know which therapy was best for them at that moment. It was a free service where walk-ins were welcomed.”
— Pedro Reyes
Views of SANATORIUM by Pedro Reyes (maat, 19/05 – 20/09/2021). Photography: Vasco Vilhena, courtesy of the artist and EDP Foundation / maat.
One of the tenets of SANATORIUM is: if you want to heal, start healing others. It’s very nice to be helped, but even more rewarding to help others. What goes around comes around.
The “Museum of Hypothetical Lifetimes” is centred on a scale model of a hypothetical museum, where each room or gallery represents a different part of your life. You are about to see your entire life as an exhibition, from the cradle to the grave, looking both prospectively and retrospectively at your past, present, and future.
“Mudras” are a symbolic gesture involving the body; most are performed with the fingers and hands. Often employed in the iconography and spiritual practice of Indian religions, they are used to guide the flow of energy in the body and to the brain. In this therapy you will be taught several mudras that you may find useful. After practicing these, you will invent some mudras of your own.
Each of the therapies in SANATORIUM has a particular genealogy. Sometimes they are combinations of tools and resources found in psychology, others also incorporate elements from theatre or exercises for actors as well as elements that are common to the artistic practice. Other elements come from religion or shamanism.
Ex-votos are devotional objects from the past that can be found in churches and chapels where worshippers wished to give thanks for an event they considered miraculous. They take a wide variety of forms, but always include a text and an illustration describing someone’s recovery from an ailment, rescue from danger, moment of joy, etc. We may consider them a sort of prayer. The therapy “Ex-voto” requires you to think of a special moment for which you feel grateful.
In our minds a symbolic act has the equivalent power of a real act. Consequently, the symbolic destruction of a person may free us from the drive to act against that person in real life. “Vaccine Against Violence” aims to make real acts of violence redundant, to free the subject from long-standing hatred. Get even with the dummy; punch it until the balloon bursts. At the end you will be given a sugar pill, a placebo that is your vaccine.
“Philosophical Casino” works like an oracle. Each person in a group will write down three questions. The questions will be put in a box. A series of dices, each of which features a philosophical quote on each side from one of five categories: Greek, Far East, Renaissance, Nineteenth Century Philosophy in German, and Mid-Twentieth Century Philosophers. The group selects one dice to roll to give an answer to the question each person pulls from the box. How does the quote that comes up shed light on your question?
“In lockdown we have realised how therapeutic it was just to have a normal life, walking down the street, meeting with people, going to a party. All those things that we have not been able to do, that we took for granted, are extremely therapeutical; so being alive and these everyday activities emerging under a new light, I think we can learn a lot from it.”
— Pedro Reyes
In "Citileaks", secrets are exchanged…
In popular culture, the voodoo doll is a surrogate for an intended target of sorcery. “Goodoo” is a positive iteration of this doll.
In Paris, Leader and Follower stand facing each other.
Leader: Use movements and facial expressions to project feelings onto your partner. Move slowly and allow your partner to mimic you while keeping the distinction between leader and follower.
Follower: Allow yourself to be directed by the Leader. Try to imagine what the Leader is feeling. Synchronize your body and expressions with theirs. Imagine you are fusing into one being. Whenever “Switch” is called, exchange roles.
“Mirroring” is a new therapy, conceived by Pedro Reyes for the instalment of SANATORIUM at maat, to be held outdoors.
[Note: Pedro Reyes invites you to try this therapy in your own home, to film the process and send us your photos and/or videos so that we can publish them on our digital platforms. More information here.]
The objective of “Compatibility Test for Couples” is to discover the compatibility that one person has with another. To test this circumstance couples can take part in the following experiment:
Two large glasses.
A chopping board.
A blender or a juice extractor.
As many kinds of fruits and vegetables as possible.
Choose the fruit or vegetable with which you most identify yourself.
Choose the fruit or vegetable with which you most identify your partner.
Make juice out of both fruits or vegetables.
Mix them well.
Judge your compatibility as a couple by its taste.
Words by Pedro Reyes, from the interview by Inês Grosso, originally published in SANATORIUM (exhibition booklet, maat, 2021).
Pedro Reyes studied architecture but considers himself a sculptor, although his works integrate elements of theatre, psychology and activism. His work takes on a great variety of forms, from penetrable sculptures to puppet productions. In 2008, Reyes initiated the ongoing “Palas por Pistolas” where 1,527 guns were collected in Mexico through a voluntary donation campaign to produce the same number of shovels to plant 1,527 trees. This led to “Disarm” (2012), where 6,700 destroyed weapons were transformed into a series of musical instruments. Recently, Pedro Reyes was commissioned by The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists to raise awareness about the increasing risk of nuclear conflict, for which he developed Amnésia Atómica to be presented at Times Square in August 2021 alongside the Non-Proliferation Treaty Conference at the United Nations. For his work on disarmament, Reyes was granted the Luxembourg Peace Prize in 2021.
In 2011, Pedro Reyes initiated SANATORIUM , a transient clinic that provides short unexpected treatments mixing art and psychology. Originally commissioned by the Guggenheim Museum in New York City, "SANATORIUM" has been in operation at Documenta 13, Kassel (2012), Whitechapel Gallery, London (2013), and OCA, São Paulo (2015) among others. On the tenth anniversary of this project, a new version of it is presented at maat (19/05 – 20/09/2021), in the gallery space of Central. In this iteration of SANATORIUM, visitors are able to engage in a total of nine therapies, including “Mirroring”, a new outdoor therapy, and Compatibility Test for Couples, an online one, both specially conceived for this occasion.