sauna culture

A new event celebrating the art, sauna culture and, yes, sweat bathing is on the way

Wednesday March 15 marks the opening of Public Sweat  — a fusion of art, sauna culture and sweat bathing at Harbourfront Centre.

The event, created by Toronto’s Art Spin, sees a number of artists create structures for the event that will be beautiful art pieces in their own ways, but also functional saunas.

“Some structures have other curated art pieces involved with their spaces. including video and photos, and the site itself will also feature sauna related art pieces,” says Katie Saunoris, spokesperson for Public Sweat. “The entire space will be curated for relaxation – there will be a lounge, a cafe, a firepit, a cold rinse, and sound bath musicians. They already tour with Mobile Sweat (one of the saunas) and it has been really successful.”

According to the Public Sweat team, artists were invited based on their relationship to sweat bathing and related themes in their past works, in addition to their experience in sculpture, architecture and social practice. Confirmed artists of Public Sweat to date include Simone Jones, SHEEEP Studio, Christie Pearson, and Chris Foster.

Public Sweat sauna with photo by Priam Thomas

“There are many beautiful elements common to sweat bathing cultures all around the world, in particular, we wanted to bring a sense of social connection to Toronto through this project,” says Rui Pimenta, co-director and co-curator of Art Spin. “We’re always interested in putting art in unique spaces, and the fact that Public Sweat is created by artists and surrounded by art creates an exciting entry point into sweat bathing” added Layne Hinton, Co-Director and Co-Curator of Art Spin. “We invite visitors to bring their bathing suits and towels, and a sense of curiosity.”

For example, Abandoned Splendour is a sauna designed by Simone Jones that is said to bring together her passion for film history, video, sculpture and electronic to create a cinematic sauna experience in a form inspired by Victorian-era industrial wood burners.

“My sauna, Abandoned Splendor, positions these former industrial giants as spaces of contemplation, loss and wonder,” says Jones, whose design will be enhanced through an intimate soundscape by collaborating artist Mitchell Akiyama.

Garmabeh by SHEEEP is an artistic take on ancient Iranian bath houses, while Geospheric Sweatbath by Christie Pearson connects bathing, utopian communities.

Tickets for the event are $28 for adults, and each booking is for a scheduled 2-hour session where participants are free to move at their own pace between all five sweat bathing stations.

Article exclusive to STREETS OF TORONTO