A documentary look at Finnish modern-day sauna culture
Heli Blåfield documents Finnish modern-day sauna culture, and through it, Finnish everyday life and its rituals. Heli toured all 19 provinces of Finland from May 2017 to December 2018. Together with her brother, writer Ville Blåfield, they published a series of photo reportages, that eventually formed a book published early 2019 (Saunavuoro, Teos). The siblings travelled 10,390 kilometres by car, 2,200 kilometres by air and 318 kilometres by ferry, for a total of 12,908 kilometres. Along the way, they met over 100 new sauna companions.
Sauna People Photography Exhibition
Nov 27th (Fri) – Dec 8th (Tue)
Free, with advance registration only.
Children under 12 years old don’t need a reservation.
Metsä Pavilion, 3-5-39 Minami-Azabu, Minato-ku, Tokyo
Dec 1st at 18:00–19:30
The artist talk is arranged via Zoom.
In English with Japanese interpretation.
The link to the artist talk will be published on the day of the event.
“The tour took us to public and private saunas, together with families, groups of friends, and colleagues. We saw a lot of lacquered birch panel, Crocs sandals, and plastic carpets. But at the same time we saw a lot of beauty – a lot of Finnishness. For a Finn, sauna is not only a dark booth, it’s also a window. We realised that above and after all sauna is the great connecting factor in our culture.”
There are over 3 million saunas in Finland – a country of 5 million people. According to official statistics, clear majority of Finnish saunas – 1,686,154 of them to be exact – are located in private homes. The second largest group, at 797,845, are found in Finland’s summer cottages. As the categories grow smaller, it is easy to gain a sense of the unique diversity of Finland’s sauna stock. Some 9,896 saunas can be found in various farm buildings, 6,468 saunas in business premises or industrial buildings, and 4,000-or-so saunas have been built onto trailers.
Whatever the real number, the statistics don’t lie: you can find a sauna in pretty much every corner of Finland. It is an integral part of most every living arrangement, weekly routine and social interaction.
Heli Blåfield is a Helsinki based freelance journalist (M.Soc.Sc). In her work she is specialised in reportages, portraits, and fashion. Her pictures have been published in many Finnish and international publications.
Ville Blåfield is a Helsinki based communications specialist and writer.
The Sauna People exhibition has been previously on display in Narva and Tartu via Finnish Institute in Estonia. In 2021 the exhibition will travel to VB Photographic Centre in Kuopio and to Spain via Finnish Institute in Madrid.
The exhibition was created with support from Patricia Seppälä Foundation and The Finnish Sauna Society.
Photo: Polvijärvi, May 2018: Tuula and Esa enjoying Esa’s sauna by lake Vehkalampi.
Entrance is free but needs to be reserved in advance, reservations can be made until 16:00 the day before.
Please choose your desired day here and complete the registration process on Peatix via the below links:
Friday 27.11.: <<Reserve your ticket>>
Saturday 28.11.: <<Reserve your ticket>>
Sunday 29.11.: <<Reserve your ticket>>
Monday 30.11.: <<Reserve your ticket>>
Tuesday 1.12.: <<Reserve your ticket>>
Wednesday 2.12.: <<Reserve your ticket>>
Thursday 3.12.: Open only for the participants of the women’s empowerment seminar
Friday 4.12.: <<Reserve your ticket>>
Saturday 5.12.: <<Reserve your ticket>>
Sunday 6.12.: <<Reserve your ticket>>
Monday 7.12.: <<Reserve your ticket>>
Tuesday 8.12.: Open only for the participants of the architecture seminar