I come here every Sunday morning around 7:30. A very peaceful time of the day even in Tokyo.
The sculptor, Eddie Kienholz made an installation called The Beanery in 1965. I went into that installation in the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam about 20 odd years ago. It had a profound effect on me. It’s an installation that allows the viewer to enter an environment (a bar) at that period in the 1960s. I can’t remember what his comment about the piece is but I do remember a mannequin bartender with a clock as his face. In fact, the eerie sense of presence is supplied by mannequins, the human element for observatory purposes. If that was Kienholz”s intention, it worked, I got that sinister feeling I was not alone. For me, this laundrette has a few similarities to The Beanery in its construction. For one, evocative, nostalgic and aesthetic environments.
When entering the laundrette every Sunday, the smells of warm damp washing and soap powder fill my nostrils. Smells prevalent to student days. Visually, it’s a little different here to back home. Yes, you still hear the machines dragging their heavy loads, the squelching of the water and the climatic spin at the end. However, the washers here, open from the top, not by a round-windowed door. Even though one can’t visually witness that climatic frantic spinning where the soap suds are smacking hard, violently against window, just the sound supplies those mental pictures. Another visually engaging aspect are the soap or razor dispensers. All bearing the hallmarks of worn; the grimy coin slots, scratched paint and sticky labels peeling at the corners. This laundrette wouldn’t look out of place in a Mike Leigh film or a lyric in a Kinks song. However, when I look outside the window, I see a modern environment living in measured time but I’m standing in an interior where time is seems has been forgotten, well, slight exaggeration, the coin washers take 38 minutes! But you know what I’m getting at. Oh yes, you might be wondering why you can see a razor dispenser, well, you can take a shower in here too. How considerate! I tell you what, with the humidity setting in hard now, I was tempted to take a dip this morning.
The good old laundrette, a nostalgic place where in the past, and even now, I’d take along a library book or a footy magazine. And if I had neither, there was always someone I could have a chinwag with, always.