SWEAT

 

The cultural art project SALT comes from the North, from the coastal Arctic landscape where people have lived in harmony with a harsh climate and fickle weather for thousands of years. The Arctic people have traditionally been nomadic. They have followed the seasons’ rhythm and animal migration routes. They have sailed with the wind and followed the ocean currents. They have left behind cautious footprints.

The pyramid-shaped fish rack (hesjen in Norwegian) is a monument to this way of life. For hundreds of years it has been a symbol for the northern coastline. Fish were dried on the rack, then prepared for export. The construction thus enabled new connections with other parts of the world. Dried fish was a very durable and sought after commodity, and its trade generated great wealth.

SALT is a nomadic art project develop around the pyramid-shaped fish rack. When SALT visit Sandhornøy (2014-2015) the Chinese artist Yang Fudong presented a beautiful black and white film commission, “The Light That I Feel” in the Arctic Pyramid. Other artist, such as Jana Winderen, Cecilie Jonsson and HC Gilje have done work in the construction. Until November 2019, Kaarina Kaikkonen´s work “We are still the same” can be experienced in the Pyramid.  Hand in hand, 1200 shirts from people in Finland and Oslo are connected in the installation.

SALT`s next art project is an installation called SWEAT. Behind this project is Mikkel Aaland (born 1952), a San Francisco based photographer, film maker and artist. Aaland will hang up 1200 towels and loincloth from bath and private home all around the world in the Arctic Pyramid.

Mikkel Aaland has published over 16 books and exhibited in multiple locations around the world. At the age of 22, Aaland embarked on a three year journey to bring him to Russia, Turkey, Japan, Mexico and Finland to study the various bathing traditions. This research project led to the release of the book SWEAT (1978). The book has already become a classic and it is an illustrated history and Description of the Finnish Sauna, Russian Bania, Islamic Hammam, Japanese Mushi-Buro, Mexican Temescal, and American Indian & Eskimo Sweatlodge. 

Based on the book SWEAT, Bray´s Run Productions, a Seattle-based independent film productions company that specializes in exploring culture and history contacted Aaland with the request to make a nine-part documentary series about the various bathing traditions around the world. Titled, Perfect Sweat, the documentary series to be released in the fall 2020. 

“Sweat, because of its indirect association with fire, is connected with the creation of humankind. In Russian and Native American folklore are tales of "God" in a sweat bath and creating man through drops of falling sweat. A Bengali tale indicates another culture that believed that sweat carries the seeds of life.  "Siva sweat and he washed the sweat away with a piece of cloth. He threw the cloth away.  Out of this a girl was born. Before people knew that bacteria thrived in blood and filth and were responsible for disease, people believe that evil spirts were the cause of ill health.  People called on the spirits of fire to purge their bodies of demonly.  Benevolent sweat baths spirits drove aches and pains from the body through the medium of sweat” – Mikkel Aaland