Reykjavik

Reykjavik

The Hot Pot as Political Arena


Throughout Iceland, and especially in the capital of Reykjavik, one is never far from a “heitur pottur” or hot pot; a public vessel scaled to accommodate only a few people at a time; filled with hot water fed from easily accessible geothermal reserves. Usually situated within swimming and recreational complexes, hot pots are special moments of physical and social intensity within cities, towns, and landscapes. No matter their context, they stand apart as focal points of unique cultural significance. They provide literal points of heat and texture in the environment. They catalyze moments of reflection and communication, relieving dark winter days with intimate moments of warmth. Like a neighborhood pub, hot pots draw people from all walks of life: friends and strangers alike, all stripped of their uniforms, together in a beautiful environment of sounds and sense, where eye contact is almost unavoidable. The hot pot is a site of exchange, interactions that include everything from personal rendezvous to political debates.