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Salt of the Earth / Soma. Replica 2016

Salt bricks from the war area in Mystetskiy Arsenal, Kyiv, Ukraine
'Salt of the Earth' – it is a replica winter 2016–2017 of sculptural installation 'Soma – Body Without Gender' winter 2013–2014

Salt bricks brought from the salt mine 'Soledar' in Donbass (war area of Ukraine). Photos from artist archive.
The column, pillar is the main architectural construction, the body of the structure of society, on its shoulders, in the image and likeness of which the entire existing civilization was erected. However, the vertical hierarchical structure of the modern world cracks and leads to the destruction and an ever-increasing humanitarian catastrophe in its most vulnerable parts.

Column, as a symbol of verticality, strength and eternity, a symbol of civilization, the patriarchal structure of the world can no longer cope with the existing load and crumbles into parts, but on the other hand, some pillars of humanity strengthen, become more powerful, strong, and seem indestructible.
In the conditions of the global crisis of today, the eternal question everywhere is about what aspects of life, what pillars of the world structure will remain at the core, the foundation of future values, whether we should continue and intensify the destruction of the aversion of "others", or we need to rethink and restructure the existing structure horizontal, equal, sensual society that accepts each and every one. Do we need to accept the existing construction of the world, or do we need to try to comprehend its imperfection, through accepting support and assistance to those who seem to be others, strangers or imperfects.

Salt is one of the main resources for the development of mankind and civilization. It is salt that is a symbol of wisdom, purity, prosperity, creative participation in the creation of the world, but on the other hand it is a symbol of building wealth, "purity" and elitism. The main use of salt is preservative, so the most popular interpretation is the need to preserve the purity of the world. What kind of "purity" are we talking about – segregation and division into ours and others, or, nevertheless, about the kindness and acceptance which the pillars of the universe still save?

In 2013, I created 27 salt columns – sculptural installation 'Soma – Body without Gender'. Each brick from which these columns were installed was created and burned by me personally. And then, during the exhibition, some columns collapsed and fell, and some became stronger and more powerful. Then, in the conditions of the beginning of the revolution [winter 2013-2014] and the desire to show solidarity with those who are fighting for the horizontal world of the new world – life after the revolution, I myself also broke part of the columns, as a symbol of the fall of the verticality of the patriarchal world [performanceto Be or not to Be].

Now in the project 'Salt of the Earth' [Soma.Replica 2016] each salt block was cut in the bowels of the earth, in the east of Ukraine and delivered directly from the territory of the conflict, from the mines of the city Soledar in Donbass to the exhibition space of Mystestkiy Arsenal in Kyiv [capital of Ukraine]. Each salt brick has the same size of 200*200*400 mm, identical to the concrete blocks used in fast and affordable modern mass housing construction, especially in conditions of a global housing shortage. Each block has the same size, but at the same time it is completely different – it is like a unit of society, which should have equal rights and opportunities, but at the same time have the right to be different and individual.

The metaphor of the 'Salt of Earth', which is also a replica of the 'Soma' sculptural installation – a body without signs of gender, is not only about destroyed houses, architectural structures in the context of ongoing conflict, it is primarily an attempt to rethink, ask a question and raise to the philosophical level the imperfect modern structure of society, which is built on hierarchy, on inequality and division into friends and foes. It is also an attempt to understand and accept that "alien" and "others" does not exist, so we are all equally fragile and ephemeral, we are like the pillar of salt at any moment can be dissolved or petrified for the ages, every man, as a unit of society is important and indispensable, and in the context of global and domestic shocks, we are all equal.

Written during autumn-winter 2016
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