Hamam, un magazine entièrement dédié à la culture du bain.
Hamam est un trimestriel lancé en 2020 par l’artiste turque Ekin Balcıoğlu. Le magazine explore son obsession pour la culture du bain à travers le monde.
Entretien avec la fondatrice de Hamam
Can you quickly introduce yourself and your role in Hamam?
My name is Ekin Balcıoğlu and I am the Editor-in-Chief and Co-founder of Hamam. I am a Turkish artist living in the high desert of Taos, New Mexico with my cat (Korsan), dog (Kaptan), and husband (Steve), who is also my co-founder 🙂
Bathing is a really « niche » subject, how did this obsession start and why did you want to create a magazine about this topic?
I believe that bathing is a ritualistic act that does more than just wash the body – it cleanses the soul. I grew up in Turkey, where hamam culture is really common, however I did not get into communal bathing until I moved to New York and needed a way to warm up to survive the miserably cold winters. I became a regular steam bather at the Russian Turkish Baths in the East Village and it was in that bathhouse that I met some of the most interesting and inspiring people, many of whom are lifelong friends of mine.
After moving to San Francisco, I got a part time job at Archimedes Banya to learn the healing art of platza – a Russian steam treatment performed in the sauna with a bouquet of leafy branches. The experience inspired me to do a creative project to shed light on the subcultures that permeate the bathing community – something similar to “Humans of New York” for bathhouse people.
As the content ideas flowed, Steve introduced me to WET Magazine – an avant garde publication founded by Leonard Koren in the late 70s. I thought a magazine would be the perfect medium to spread bathing art and culture, especially because most bathing spots don’t allow electronics. They’re a great place to read.
“it was in that bathhouse that I met some of the most interesting and inspiring people, many of whom are lifelong friends of mine.”
Can you tell us about your team and how do you all work together?
Steve and I had no publishing experience when we started Hamam. He was a former nuclear submarine officer, who became a strategy and operations person with startups and I had worked mostly on my own as a painter. I love doing research into artists, photographers, and creatives so finding contributors and curating work for the magazine is natural and fun for me.
Steve focuses on the business side of Hamam and we work with an amazing design and printing duo in Istanbul: Okay Karadayılar and Ali Taptık. I could not do any of this without our copy editor Lindsey Westbrook who lives just outside Portland. The magazines are printed at Ofset Yapimevi (also in Istanbul) and we ship from there all over the world.
How did this issue come together?
This issue is our winter issue, so we focused on the theme of heat. The issue explores the presence of heat within practices of letting go, such as how to give a perfect platza, and the tradition of Chado Japanese tea ceremonies. Like our first issue, the cover has a metalized finish. To bring out the theme of heat, we visualized the logo made of metal and heated to a very high temperature, so it would melt, distort, and change colors. We think it is a perfect reading companion this winter 🙂
Why did you choose to make a printed magazine?
Because you should spend less time looking at your phone.
Has the current health crisis changed anything in the way you work?
Not so much in the way we work, but unfortunately many indoor bathing spots have stayed closed during the pandemic. We left San Francisco in May for a road trip to be closer to nature and managed to find a few great natural hot springs to soak in. We settled in Taos, New Mexico last fall and built a sauna in the backyard – just in time for the winter.
What is your take on independent magazines?
I think people should take more risks in independent magazines, because it’s one of the last areas of publishing that remains relatively uncensored. Also, it’s not easy to start an independent magazine, but there should be better tools and resources for aspiring publishers. This is something I think about a lot and would love to explore how I can share my experience breaking into publishing so others can benefit from the lessons I have learned.
“I would love to explore how I can share my experience breaking into publishing so others can benefit from the lessons I have learned.”
Any future plans for Hamam?
I will continue to publish the magazine for as long as I think there is more to say on the subject. Sometimes I think about how we can extend the idea of Hamam – an object of letting go that you can hold in your hand – to immersive experiences. We never did get to have a launch party due to the pandemic, so we’d really like to have a proper celebration at a hamam in Turkey when the time is right.
What are the magazines that inspired you the most in creating your own?
In addition to WET, I was inspired by Fol – a legendary Turkish experimental magazine from the 1990s – and Cabinet Magazine.
Commandez le numéro 2 de Hamam sur le Shop Cahier Central.
Pour plus d’informations sur Hamam, rendez-vous sur hamammag.com