Winter Swimming Workshops - Join by swimming in waters near you at 2pm local time every Sunday until May 2021.

This simple exercise, along with the natural adrenalin high and good company, hopes to bring about a profound transformation, a sea change!

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Hello and welcome to the world of enthusiastic cold water lovers! Join me, artist Riitta Ikonen as I take on winter swimming as artistic practice. The weekly workshops are an opportunity to collaborate with gravitational flows of this planet and to build courage through cold water immersion.
Rockaway Beach
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Here is the fjord where the idea for these winter dips first came about. My collaborator Karoline Hjorth’s dad and I made the pact to swim every Friday on the opposite sides of The Atlantic one Prosecco filled night. As you can see and hear, this practice quickly has you hooked...
Trondheim
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Nobody owns the beach, but this is my beach in Rockaway Beach, NY. Thoughts on being a happy amateur. Technically beach 91st where we swim is a dedicated surf beach. Here is one of the neighbour’s, Bridget Klapinski heading out. President of this hood and a regular on these shores, she has been asked if she lives in the sea 🐟
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Ikonen invites individuals worldwide to ‘speak winter’, to metaphorically swim together at the edges of the same water. Such mental and physical training is conceived as a way to connect with one another, with known or unknown neighbours, beach creatures and the weather to challenge one’s personal limits. Image from the Eyes as Big as Plates series #Scotty, Tasmania (2019) by Riitta Ikonen and Karoline Hjorth
Tasmania
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The birds hang on the beach all winter, why shouldn’t we? The Outdoor Swimming Society has excellent tips, tricks and info for anyone wanting to enjoy the winter beach.
United Kingdom
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“How long should I stay in for?” This is a question I get asked a lot. The answer is always the same, “as long as you feel like”. There are some universal formulas for the optimum winter swim duration, but as we are all unique, you could be smart and approach each swim as a new encounter that might teach you something. Go with your gut feeling and build up from there. 😘
Kelva
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I don’t make anyone do anything, simply offer an opportunity for people to get together and try this out! It’s fantastic to see and hear people dip all over the world and experience this same high together alone!
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These Sunday swims happen come rain, shine or hale. The only thing that cancels is dangerous conditions. What ‘dangerous confirions’ means exactly is for every swimmer to decide for themselves. If you think the waves look unsafe, or if you are not totally certain if you feel comfortable getting in the water, don’t rush it, check it out Mañana 😎
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Here’s a little intro to Tuija pictures here swimming in the lake Kelvä in eastern Finland as well as a small explanation of the project she is part of: Eyes as Big as Plates. A collaboration with Karoline Hjorth in Norway, we have now travelled to 15 countries on the quest to map our relationship with nature and preparing to launch our second book this summer!
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The only thing Jakob in Greenland is afraid of is ice... He only told this to us after this photo shoot in Nuuk 🥶. More on how these images come about in this little clip 💙 there’s over a hundred portraits now in the Eyes as Big as Plates series and Karoline and I have vowed to continue our collaboration as long as it’s fun 💫
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On the beauty of unpredictability - you walk to the sea every day and you meet a new collaborator every time: It’s good to be surprised! Like Tove Jansson said “everything is so unpredictable and that’s exactly what soothes me” (translated unofficially from Swedish here by good old me) Picture of Boubou in Dakar, Senegal, from the Eyes as Big as Plates series in 2019.
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Some days you meet this when you meander down to the shore! You go swim regardless, come back to the shore and can’t find your panties because everything has been covered by big fat snow flakes 😱🤯🤭
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One of our regulars Phyllis Ma, was walking to meet the winter swimming crew back in November 2020, but missed beach 91st where the Rockaways chapter of this global project meets. Phyllis suggested we’d make a flag to mark the spot! Here it is. This is installed in the sand at around 1.45pm every Sunday so that people arriving by shoreline can easily spot us. If you’d like to make your own flag to join the project where you are, we’d love it! Do send us a pic at mail@riittaikonen.com
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The idea is to swim every Sunday in the colder months, but you might notice wanting to make a streak for it whenever you get a chance... this was an irresistible stream pit stop on a hike in Harriman State Park in NY a few weeks ago.
Harriman State Park
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One of the driving forces on these workshops is some deep Finnish stubbornness! Added challenge for me is making a new bathing suit every Sunday morning in time for the swim! I take about two hours from about 11am-1pm to whip out a ‘costume’ often out of something pre-existing or discarded... it’s a good exercise in getting a project done and dusted without too much dilly-dallying in my world where most missions go for about ten years....