For Finns, sauna is simultaneously a sacred and a mundane place. Whether you’re a skinhead, vegan or transvestite, you’re always warmly welcomed onto the benches of sauna. It is a part of the Finnish fortune and folklore, which should be cherished.
Every Finn has his own personal relationship with sauna, but the tradition is often carried out in a group. There are as many ways to go to sauna as there are people. In Finland there are 3.2 million saunas, more than one sauna per two people. As the sauna is affirmative - we are all naked and sweaty, alone or together - sauna does not value a person.
There is something to be learned from the equalizing effect of sauna, especially now during times of increasing inequality. Jussi Puikkonen's series Sauna Folk shows a wide and colorful spectrum of saunas - there are many saunas, sauna folks, sauna landscapes and sauna moments. The sensitivity of Puikkonen’s work displays the controversy, ruggedness, melancholy, beauty, brutality and unevenness of whole Finnish culture. This is genuinely self-reliant and pure, something which is not immediately understood in every corner of the world.
The inspiration for this body of work, Puikkonen got when becoming an emigrant - he has been working in Amsterdam since 2007. "Sauna is something I miss from Finland. Ialso reflects the local mindset where people are treated equally - or at least I wish they could continue to do so - and everyone can appreciate the sauna experience without regard to the social class or the political orientation. "
While looking at Puikkonen's sauna pictures it is difficult not to think of what they tell about Finland. The distance from the day-to-day sauna opened the eyes of the photographer to the whole variety and the meaning of sauna. The introvert Finns relax and chatter at least in the sauna.