Focus Gallery | February 22 – March 19, 2021
This ongoing photography project documents a community that gathers around a public sauna in Helsinki, Finland. The communal bathing space, known as Sompasauna, has been nestled between the urban wasteland of a former harbor and the Baltic Sea since 2011.
Regardless of gender, race, class, nationality, or any other disposition, visitors are expected to coexist in peace. Unlike commercial saunas, Sompasauna relies on the effort of every visitor to fetch water, chop wood, make repairs, and clean up. The point is to literally bare all, enjoy the Finnish ritual of Löyly, be invigorated by cold water, and share life and ideas. The construction of luxury condos in the area is expected to expand and eventually threaten the existence of this place.
Until then, Sompasauna inspires a diverse sub-culture of people who celebrate the notion of egalitarian bathing space. This body of work raises questions about place, community, trust, and larger expectations for well-being in society.
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