Beat to the Balance
‘Beat to the Balance’ is an interdisciplinary project that experiments with human body, warmth and different plants to open energy flow created by whisking* or leaves bathing (a tradition of using whisks – branch bundle of different tree species) in sauna. It connects different kinds of holistic healing cultures and every-day sauna culture into a living, participatory artwork that is changing every evening according to the people taking part of it.
Beat to the Balance includes rituals and knowledge sharing about plants&whisking&sauna culture and sometimes building a sauna from recycled materials.
The crisis of humanity consists of eg. climate disruption, extinction of species, pollution, outrageous consumption of natural resources and the social causes and affects of these. In this crisis, among the skills we need to become aware, (re)learn and embrace is an ability to nurture deeper connection and emphatic communication with other species & entities in the ecosystems we live within. Tree communities have always stood close beside humans, as their co-species. From the human perspective, trees’ consciousness is based on the simple idea that individual is very relational. The interdependence in between trees and humans can be made tangible with eg. ritualistic tree healing, especially inside a sauna that is a ritualistic and social space by its’ very nature. Sauna is often described as a place to find our spirit and to melt into our environment. The whisking creates a overall conscious touch, enables the healing power of different tree species and opens the locks of trauma we carry due to the exploitation of the Earth.
According to civil rights activist Audre Lorde, self-care is not self- indulgence but self-preservation and as such, an act of political warfare. In a steam bath (sauna) with trees, this self-care transforms into ourselves-care, and skinship that is even a stronger asset than warfare; it’s among the building blocks for the narrative of humanity. It’s caring and collaboration without status.
Beat to the Balance nourishes respectful attitude towards ourselves and trough that towards everything around us. It seeks to find a deeper connection to the ecosystem we live within trough the experience and understanding of humans as rational, emotional, spiritual and physical beings.
During 2015, Mari Keski-Korsu has studied to be a professional whisker under the guidance of Lithuanian whisking educator Rimas Kavaliauskas who has been teaching whisking over ten years in the Lithuanian Bath Academy.
The first Beat to the Balance was organised in Scottish Sculpture Workshop during Camp Break down Breakdown in July 2015. The project was supported and in collaboration with Frontiers in Retreat -program.
The next Beat to the Balance was in Astrid Noack’s Atelier in Copenhagen in Autumn 2015 in collaboration with Danish Sauna Society. You can read more about the BTTB project in Copenhagen on this website. In autumn 2016, Beat to the Balance happened in Pixelache Festival 2016 – ‘Interfaces for Empathy’. In April 2017, Beat to the Balance happened in context of Climate Whirl event Forest / Climate / Time.
In summer 2017, Beat to the Balance was in Edge Effects -event in Glasgow and in Kuusamo Folk Healers’ Gathering. In the context of Edge Effects, also Holding Space with Trees – workshop was organised. Nordic Matters festival invited Beat to the Balance to London, Southbank Centre in December 2017. In March 2018, Mari joined Contemporary Wild (Asnate Bockis and Willem van Doorn) to organise a Birch Bar and Backyard Sauna in Printroom, Rotterdam during Museumnacht. Beat to the Balance happened in Art Ii Biennale in summer 2018.
Several smaller events and whisking have been organised in different locations and contexts around Finland (eg. School for Architecture and Environment Lastu, Finnish Sauna Society, private saunas etc).
* Whisking is a special sauna action, treatment or ritual, which reminds us patting, clapping, maybe beating, whisking, brushing of person’s body with a whisk (vihta/vasta) made of different tree species’ twigs. It’s a special form of sauna massage, which requires the presence of hot steam and whisks. During whisking various movements are being performed – from waving and gentle touching to drumming, stroking, splashing and even striking.
See more images in Flickr.
Mari’s profile in Sauna International website.