How many different people have you taken a bath with?
One Washington DC based artist probably puts your number to shame. Kri Van Sloun, who uses they/them pronouns, has taken over 40 baths with a mixture of strangers, acquaintances and friends since May 2016.
Kri's story began one night after a particularly long and stressful day. Kri called up a friend and invited the person over to decompress and share a bath -- something they had never done together. The duo felt inexplicably bonded over the experience, and Kri knew the idea needed to be developed.
Kri is now the architect of The Bathtub Project, a photo-and-interview series conducted entirely in the bathtubs of other people's homes. For Kri, the bathtub is a vessel through which to explore vulnerabilities.
You can literally soak in your insecurities and fears... your accomplishments, and your dreams.
Kri finds participants via referrals and their website. Strangers are vetted through conversations over the phone or casual coffee meetups prior to the interview.
There are two main rules for this project: Kri won't interview anybody if there's any sexual attraction at play, and neither party can partake in drugs or alcohol directly before or during the interview. “I'm creating this space for authentic vulnerability,” affirms Kri.
At the end of each interview, the interviewee selects his/her/their favorite photo from the session and is given about a week to edit the content of the interview for clarity. The full interviews are then posted here.
I joined Kri for a portion of their latest Bathtub Roadtrip. We started in Philadelphia, PA and ended our three-day adventure in Columbus, OH. For three days, I watched Kri effortlessly do their thing. One minute, they'd be knocking on the door of somebody they hardly knew, and the next they'd be sharing a bath.
The interviews were surprisingly conversational. They felt more fluid than the simple question/response dynamic I'm used to as a documentary filmmaker. Kri's a dynamite conversationalist and, because of that, things rarely got uncomfortable.
People, normally when we get out of the tub, say that they feel lighter, that they feel like it was therapy.
Kri's aim is to interview 200 people and eventually to turn the Bathtub Project into a published book.