Public Sweat – a springtime community experience fusing art with sauna culture – until April 23, 2023 (Toronto)
Toronto’s Art Spin have collaborated with Harbourfront Centre to present Public Sweat, a sauna village where you can move through and explore five sweat bathing structures each created by a different artist. Every space is unique in design and ranges in temperature, and quality of steam. In one you’ll lie side-by-side with others on a heated floor, in another you might ladle water on the rocks to watch embedded video art through the rising steam. Over the course of your two hour session, you are invited to explore the different areas at your own pace, alternating between the hot spaces, the cold rinse, and finding moments for rest and leisure in between. See below for ticket information and a chance to win a free pair.
Public Sweat is a participatory sweat bathing experience and platform for contemporary art. This unusual context for engaging with art invites visitors to immerse themselves in the shared values of sweat bathing practices around the world: community, connection and care.
Indoor and outdoor experiences include lounge spaces, a cafe, a cold rinse for the daring, and a multidisciplinary range of contemporary art programming to be experienced while guests sweat in artist-designed sweat bathing structures. The structures will serve as both public artworks and inclusive public spaces where visitors are invited to leave their daily armour at the door, and share in a moment of self-care and community care. Participants will be invigorated by the heat, connections, and creativity upon which this event is built. This interactive and shared experience is designed as a catalyst for discovery and joy.
Abandoned Splendour by Simone Jones brings together her passion for film history, video, sculpture and electronics, with an interest in the nature of perception to create a cinematic sauna experience in a form inspired by Victorian-era industrial wood burners, which will be enhanced through an intimate soundscape by collaborating artist Mitchell Akiyama.
Garmabeh by SHEEEP references ancient Iranian bath houses that were an important social setting for centuries prior to the introduction of piped water. Garmabeh creates a structure of intricate geometries and materials to make a space that speaks to traditional Iranian medicine’s four main temperaments; hot, cold, dry and wet. SHEEEP is an experimental studio by Reza Nik and Conner Stevens, working at the intersection of community, culture and architecture.
Geospheric Sweatbath by Christie Pearson connects bathing, utopian communities, and the DIY spirit. Pearson, an artist and architect, is the author of Architecture of Bathing: Body, Landscape, Art (MIT Press 2020) and her extensive world travels in pursuit of diverse bathing practices has led to her design that pairs architectural geometry with rich natural materials.
Mobile Sweat by Chris Foster has combined his interest in the social possibilities connected to sauna culture along with his experience building saunas to convert a used utility trailer into both a sauna and a vessel for other layers of arts programming. Foster’s nomadic wood-fired mobile sauna design includes an embedded video screen and sound system to allow for further artistic interventions and collaborations.
Historically, public bathing spaces have been a gathering place where people come together for reasons as varied as those that gather. Inspired by this, Public Sweat has been designed as an exercise to generate social connection by sharing a sweat with friends, family, and strangers alike.
Start and finish your session in the indoor lounge, a space to unwind surrounded by visual and video art, or catch an intimate live performance. Grab a tea and a snack to replenish your salt levels post-sauna, and take a moment to peruse artist multiples and beautiful craft works related to sweat bathing.In addition to the artists designing sweat bathing structures there will be work from a variety of disciplines in the lounge and through scheduled events, including the Sound Bath program of ambient music.
It’s recommended that you spend 15 minutes in the sauna, and 15 minutes cooling down. Repeat as many times as you like within your two hour session.
Tickets to Public Sweat range from $25-$35 with options to purchase 4-Pass tickets for multiple visits. Ticket prices include all applicable fees and taxes. Thursday evening tickets include live sound bathing performance artists.
Like our post on Facebook tagging who you want to bring with you, and you’ll be entered in our contest for a pair of tickets to be redeemed by March 31, 2023 during regular hours.
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Sweat Bathing History
Sweat bathing is commonly practiced by people both past and present from all over the world to achieve a wide variety of health and hygiene treatments, as well as a way to help the body and achieve a deep sense of relaxation. With thermal cycles that alternate between hot and cold temperatures – often a key component of the sweat bathing experience – the end result is one that many bathers will testify to improving one’s physical and mental disposition and inducing a euphoric, even transcendent state of being.
Sweat bathing is a global practice that goes by many names around the world: saunas in Finland, hammams in Turkey, banyas in Russia, jimjilbangs in Korea, thermaes in Ancient Rome and the mushi-buro or onsen in Japan. There are many benefits for both body and mind attributed to sweat bathing, some researched and some anecdotal.
In July 2022, Public Sweat’s core team members, Chris Foster, Layne Hinton and Rui Pimenta had an opportunity to travel to Norway and Finland to get a first hand experience of the sauna culture in those countries, that included 60 saunas in 30 days. Along their journey, they met many colourful and interesting personalities who were more than eager to share their love and knowledge of sauna life. They experienced the oldest public sauna in Finland, visited the sauna capital of the world, tried a sauna made from a dumpster, and witnessed one sauna fire.
About the Author
Bryen Dunn is a freelance journalist with a focus on travel, lifestyle, entertainment and hospitality. He has an extensive portfolio of celebrity interviews with musicians, actors and other public personalities. He enjoys discovering delicious eats, tasting spirited treats, and being mesmerized by musical beats.