Sweating for Europe

Brussels, Belgium
Photograph of a mobile sauna built in a firetruck, against a seaside backdrop.
©Dida Zende

Sweating for Europe is a series of discussions on the most burning topics, bringing MEPs and citizens together in a unique context in front of the European Parliament building. The three-day event series takes place around an old fire truck that has been transformed into a movable wood burning sauna.

The background for the project is the need to break traditional borders of closed doors and hierarchical systems. On 24-25 April, Sweating for Europe invites MEPs into the sauna amongst the timeliest topics. In the after-heat of the sauna session, the MEPs and citizens face each other in a moderated panel discussion hosted by Parlamentarium, the Europen Parliament Visitors’ Centre. Both evenings end with an open-for-all sauna and cultural programme, with bands from different parts of Europe tuning the atmosphere. On Wednesday 26 April, the sauna travels to BOZAR in the centre of Brussels, and invites local people to continue the discussion. On Thursday 27 April, Bruzz enters the sauna, interviewing a number of interesting Brussels characters throughout the day to be heard on radio & TV.

The event unites the Finnish sauna tradition with the European political discourse. Saunas and spas are part of the diverse shared cultural heritage of our continent. By breaking the conventional and familiar discussion platform, the fire truck sauna also highlights the potential of culture in contributing to large societal questions. In Finland, the sauna is perceived as a place for peace, relaxation and truthfulness. When the sauna is entered, all things futile are left behind. These are attributes that the political discourse could benefit from. In the history of independent Finland many big decisions have matured in the sauna – now it is Europe’s turn to enter.

The FIREFIT sauna was created by artist Dida Zende, handcrafted during the Helsinki Design Capital year 2012, at the initiative of Goethe-Institut Finnland. Sweating for Europe is realised by the Finnish Cultural Institute for the Benelux, Goethe-Institut Brüssel, and Alliance Française de Bruxelles-Europe, in collaboration with EUNIC Brussels, Instituto Camões, the Finnish Sauna Society, BOZAR, and Visit.Brussels. The project is part of the official programme of the Finland 100 anniversary programme.

Look at pictures from day one here

Pictures from day two here