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Skull with built-in sauna turns heads in Austria

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skullsauna

Mon, 17 Nov 2008 - a woman looks into the exhibit "Wellness Skull" made by the artist Joep van Lieshout at the Karlsplatz in Vienna. The oversize skull with a built-in sauna is turning heads in the Austrian capital. (AP Photo/Lilli Strauss)

An oversize skull with a built-in sauna is turning heads in the Austrian capital. The white walk-in structure — situated near a busy Vienna intersection — is known as the “Wellness Skull” and also boasts a bathtub and shower. On either side of the neck, that is.

The eye-catching installation, which stands about 15 feet tall and is made of wood and synthetic material, is the brainchild of Dutch artist Joep van Lieshout.

Van Lieshout said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press that his 2007 creation was part of a series of pieces linked to body parts.

“It’s really a piece that has many different interpretations,” van Lieshout said when asked about the skull’s deeper meaning. “Like a painter uses paint, I use design.”

Tourists and locals alike appeared astounded by the skull on Monday, two days before it officially goes on display as part of an effort by Public Art Vienna to revitalize and enhance urban space around the capital.

“It’s the most random thing I’ve seen in Vienna,” said 27-year-old Nick Abrahams from London as he walked it Monday afternoon.

“It’s really strange,” echoed Nick Trute, 29, from Sydney, Australia.

Although the skull was built to be fully functional, visitors won’t be able to try it out or witness steam emanating from its eye sockets — something that only happens when the sauna, which fits eight people, is in use.

Visitors will be able to go inside every first Saturday of the month or by appointment through March 15.

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