SRG Guidebook 2022

Page 1

Some Background Reading OR A Code Of Conduct

Thanks for your interest to find out more about the Sauna Reading Group.

The SaunaReadingGroup is an attempt to force one traditional format into another.

It is, as the name suggests, a reading group hosted in a functioning sauna cabin. A research tool to calmly, slowly, closely, examine authenticity, process, context and awkward interaction.

I am interested in how we navigate the communal rituals of sauna and reading group, and how the demands of each one might benefit the other.

For each session I invite a small number of guests to join me discussing a short text about a theme tangentially related to the sauna experience. That could be isolation, personal space, out of body experience, health, boredom, nudity, small architecture, or our relationship to the elements.

They have mainly been hosted in the basement sauna of the Finnish Church in Rotherhithe, but also in other public and private saunas around the UK and Europe. Sessions have either been self-organised by me or at the invitation of an interested group or organisation. Do get in touch if you would like to be involved. This document will evolve as the project does.

The Sauna Reading Group Sequence

(Steps 1-10) Including an selection of optional reading, listening, singing, laughing, drawing, breathing & feedback exercises. * *

- THE GROUP can be large or small. But between three and ten works best. People come by word of mouth or other connections. But it is rare for everyone to know each other.

- DRESS CODE is swimwear, or whatever clothes you’re comfortable sweating and showering in. We have done sessions naked - following Finnish tradition - but only if everyone has asked to do it that way.

- THE HEAT will control your movement, so go in and out of the sauna cabin whenever you need to. The conversation will adapt accordingly. Sometimes more talk happens when cooling off outside, sometimes not. Silence is always fine. Listen to each other and your body. Say what’s needed. That is the SRG ethos.

- SAFETY & RESPECT are crucial to the process. For this to be a satisfying experience please respect each others opinions, bodies & personal space.

- ACCESS to most saunas includes some steps up and down. If this is practically difficult for you then I can offer assistance or find a more accessible sauna. Other access needs – BSL, large type etc. - can also be accommodated with advance notice.

- the changing area and showers at the saunas we use can often be informal or open plan. But we always work together to make sure everyone is comfortable. Just ask me if you’re unsure about anything.

- DOCUMENTATION of the SRG is kept to a minimum, with a few discreet photos agreed on by the group. Attendees are allowed to document too, in this or other ways – drawings, diagrams, audio etc. then invited to share with group permission.

- SESSIONs often HAve A CO-HOST who I select the text with and suggests other guests. This has been a great way to open the process up beyond my frame of reference and to start the conversation in advance of the reading group happening.

- THE CONTEXT of each sauna is always significant. For example the Finnish Church sauna is in the basement of a place of worship and community centre, but it is interesting to consider why each sauna is where it is and who uses it.

- THERE IS NO FIXED STRUCTURE to the session as I’d rather let the heat guide our activity. Conversation flows naturally but can also be encouraged with various group exercises: reading, listening, silence, singing, forced laughter or some useful question prompts.

- POST SAUNA DRINKS are always an enjoyable part of the process, allowing us to discuss our discussion, or not. Usually somewhere close by - a pub, bar, terrace, public square, maybe by water.

- Always aSK ME if you are uncertain about any part of this process. My aim is for you to feel as comfortable as possible during the reading group. This handbook is designed to answer most questions but if anything is still unclear just ask. My contact details are on the back page.




Discussing ‘TheStrange Case of the North Pond Hermit’, Michael Finkel, GQ

Attending: Simon Willems (UK), Hans Rosenström (FI), Elina Suoyrjö (FI)



Discussing extracts from Dr Anthony Storr's 'Solitude', 1988. from the SSW Edge Effects Library. and 'The Stranger in the Woods', Michael Finkel, 2017

Attending: Current SSW International Artists in Residence, SSW staff.

Saturday 27/1/18 - ScottishSculptureWorkshop,Lumsden,Scotland


Reading 'Auto-Immunity: A Self-Destructive Service' by Emma Balkind,

Attending: Mari Keski-Korsu (FI), Yvonne Billimore (UK)

Friday 28/8/18,


Reading Carolee Schneeman's

of a Body House', 1957-67.

Attending: Karen Di Franco (UK), Irene Revell (UK), Mohammad Namazi (IRN)

Friday 16/11/

18, 2-4pm - TheFinnishChurch,Rotherhithe,London
7-9pm - SOLU/BioArtSociety,Helsinki,Finland
magazine, 2014.
4/3/2016 - TheFinnishChurch,Rotherhithe,London


Reading an extract of Michael Lambek's 'How to Make Up One's Mind: Reason, Passion & Ethics in Spirit Possession'

Attending: Anja Borowicz (POL/UK), Col Self (UK), Harold Offeh (UK)

Friday 23/8/2019, 2-4pm -TheFinnishChurch,Rotherhithe,London


Reading the essay 'Bodies in Heat' by John Christ, from a paper by Pia Lindman about her 'Hybrid Sauna' that placed a two-person divided sauna in the courtyard of PS1, New York

Attending: Mine Erişir(TR), Olivia Glasser (UK), Wendy Liu (CN), Mika Meskinen (FI), Kimmo Raitio(FI), Bethany Wells (UK).

Friday 24/1/2020, 2-4pm - TheFinnishChurch,Rotherhithe,London


Reading the essay 'The Word Made Fresh: Mystical Encounter and the New Weird Divine' by Elvia Wilk, published in e-flux journal #92.

Attending: Sarah Browne (IRL), Lucy Sames (UK). Natalie Boobis (UK)

Friday 21/2/ 2020, 12-2pm - TheFinnishChurch,Rotherhithe,London


Reading from'Belonging: A Culture of Place' by bell hooks, 1990

Attending: Charlotte Troy (UK), A.R.Hopwood (UK), Melodie Roulaud (FR)

Friday 9/10/ 2022, 2-4pm –Pop-upSauna,Beaconsfield,Vauxhall

Currently planning SRGs #10, #11, #12 & beyond, on Intimacy, Repetition, Laughter, Childcare, Bodily Fluids

& Old Food. For saunas in the UK and abroad

Sometimeinthe1990s,answeredKnight,hepassedahikerwhilewalkinginthewoods. "Whatdidyousay?"askedPerkins-Vance. "Isaid,’Hi,’"Knightreplied.Otherthanthatsinglesyllable,heinsisted,hehadnotspoken withortouchedanotherhumanbeing,untilthisnight,fortwentysevenyears. ’The Strange Case of the North Pond Hermit’, Michael Finkel, GQ, 2014. SRG#1 Mybody’sabilitytodistinguishitselfbecamebroken,andsomyimmunesystemwouldset offachainofeventsanytimethatitdetectedariseinhistamineinmybody.AnytimeIate, slept,showered,caughtUVlight,wastoohotorworetightclothes,mybodyrespondedwith arashofhivesonmyskinandwithspontaneousswellingofmyextremities . 'Auto-Immunity: A Self-Destructive Service' by Emma Balkind, 2018 SRG #4 WhenyouentertheBodyHouseyouwalksouthandnorthforalongtime;youcometoan opencircularstructure–astaircaseofribs,smoothandshinywhite.Youwillseeafat knottedropeofblackhairhangingdown.Thecircularspacebecomedark.Takeoffyour clothes,leavethem.Hoistyourselfuptherope;thehairsspreadoutandbecomeacarpet youcrawlalong.IthasledyouintotheCatHousewhichissomewherebehindtheeyesofthe house. 'Parts of a Body House', by Carolee Schneeman's, 1957-67 SRG#5 Thedifficultyofprivatecitizenstoexpressthemselvespubliclyisboundupwiththemarket economyandleavesnuditytoflauntitselfonlyinprotectedprivatesituationsorunderthe influenceofalcoholorothersubstances.Alsocruciallyimportantistheroleoftheimageofthe bodyinadvertisingwhereitfunctionsasanagentintheflowofcapitalandtheproductionof desireforcommodities.TheshameandfearofnudityinU.S.cultureareinextricablyboundto thebody’soversexualizationandovercirculation.Itisaneroticizedbodythattheadvertising industryhasstrippedofitsanus,itsvagina,itspenis,itshair,aswellasitslumps,odorsand secretions,inordertofunctioninthecontinuationofconsumption. 'Bodies in Heat' by John Christ, on Pia Lindman’s 'Hybrid Sauna', PS1, New York SRG#7 SAUNA READING EXTRACTS:
Our Sauna Hat... ...for notepaper & pencil
Sauna Reading Group Est. 2016 Founder, Barry Sykes contact: #saunareadinggroup Colophon: Sauna Reading Group Handbook, Summer 2022. Text and illustrations by Barry Sykes. All photos by Barry Sykes or The Finnish Church, London. © Barry Sykes 2022 Please contact me below if you would like to support, host, or attend.