Pickling Binaries

Figa, 2016, screenprint on polished steel, 200 × 78 cm
Slavs and Tatars, Figa, 2016,

Slavs and Tatars on Fermentation

Fermentation is what we call a ›dumb‹ medium: in so far as it is very low-brow (essentially salt and water), often done by babushkas, originally with basic ingredients (cucumbers, cabbage). These ›dumb‹ media allow us to unravel often larger, complicated, sometimes high-brow stories. In the past, we’ve turned to balloons (cf. ›A Monobrow Manifesto‹, 2010)puns (cf. ›Nations‹, 2012) and other such examples.

For our ›Pickle Politics‹ cycle (2016—ongoing), we see in fermentation nothing less than a robust challenge to the Enlightenment and its legacy of binary thinking. For fermenting is a means of preserving through controlled rotting so achieving/creating something new via this is a counterintuitive antithesis. Not to mention there’s something outright alchemical about fermentation: the ›malossol‹ or new-dill (two days old) pickle is still a cucumber, but at the same time it isn’t.

Finally, fermentation allows us to renegotiate our understanding of the other and the foreigner in so far as the first other is the microbe. In large parts of Central and Eastern Europe, the brine of fermentation—aka pickle juice—has traditionally been used as a hangover cure, to restore the body and heal the damages done the night before. In the US, UK and elsewhere, pickle juice is the newest arrival on the sports drink market: used as a performance enhancer, to build up strength/endurance. Another example of how a ›dumb‹ medium can reveal differences in world view between, let’s say, an Atlanticist positivist one and a Eurasian defeatist one.

Slavs and Tatars’ Pickle Bar
11—12 Sep, 6 pm, 8 pm
13 Sep, 3 pm, 5 pm

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