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Heat Tonic

  • Silo Park Corner of Jellicoe and Beaumont Street Auckland New Zealand (map)

Inside Silo 6, Silo Park

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Exhibition Open:
Wed, Thur, Sat, Sun  11am – 3pm
Late nights: Fri 6 & 13 April, 5pm – 10pm
Artist talk: Sat 7 April, 1pm – 2pm

Seizing upon the precise moments after exiting a sauna, Aaron Burgess’ solo exhibition “Heat Tonic” captures the transformative effects of the health practice on both body and mind. Heat Tonic, Silo 6, Auckland, April 6 - 19

Prompted by new research suggesting that regular sauna users reap a multitude of health benefits including increased life expectancy, the New Zealand based photographer focus’ on revealing those positive transformations. The life size series of portraits showcased in Burgess’ solo exhibition at Silo 6  reveal an intimate glimpse of the unguarded, transformed self.

While shooting the images in Auckland, Burgess noticed that the sauna also acted as a medium to break down the wall between photographer and subject. “After a sauna, people begin to relax, letting down their guard and almost forgetting about the camera”, he says, “capturing a real, natural and honest reflection of the sitter.”

Burgess’ interest evolved from witnessing first-hand the physical and mental change that occurs after relaxing in a sauna. Though the high heat in a sauna session speeds up the heart rate, the calm quiet environment simultaneously relaxes the body and mind. “It’s this transformation, exposed through posture and expression, that’s captured in these portraits”, shot straight after each subject emerged from the sauna.

Through his ‘Heat Tonic’ series, Burgess not only explores deeper intimacy, but also promotes the value of sauna for personal health and wellbeing. Recent research in Finland by Jari Laukkanen, M.D., Ph.D., shows that regular time spent in a sauna can reduce all causes of death by up to 40 percent. Regular sauna sessions, of 4-7 times per week, showed a 63 percent lesser risk of heart attack and stroke, along with a 66 percent reduction in Alzheimer’s and dementia.

"Sauna is for your mind. It really helps you to calm down in a modern society where it is never quiet," says Jarmo Lehtola, head of the Finnish Sauna Society, a country with 5 million people and 3.2 million saunas. "You enter this meditative place”.