Today, we have washing machines. Everyone does their own laundry, in their own space. Restoring the washhouse would suggest that it has a future. But that is an illusion. Never again will peasant women walk down the paths that lead to it. Never again will it be a place where they meet and converse before hauling their clean laundry back to their homes. Restored, the washhouse appears silly and grotesque. Instead of recovering its former dignity, it has become a novelty item. It is meaningless, absurd.
Sensing the awkwardness, you called in an artist. Did you expect him to paint a fresco in a semicircle like Leonardo da Vinci? Or he would dress next to or in front of the wash house a nude woman in bronze a la Maillol?
Singling out the washhouse for restoration only highlighted the physical and perhaps mental, or at any rate cultural, dilapidation of its surroundings. This environment makes the restored washhouse appear all the more grotesque as, no matter how well restored, it will never again serve its purpose. In its present context, restoration is a costly luxury. It's unjustified, useless, anti-social, thoughtless, and therefore harmful.
To give meaning to the act of restoration could be the artist’s task. Since the washhouse took center stage in everyone’s selective perception, let us now take the restored washhouse as the center of the world and reorganize the world around it to realign this senseless restoration with reality.
Letter from Rémy Zaugg to the citizens of Blessey