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Salzburg International Summer Academy of Fine Art Open Studios, 2022

A Salzburg International Summer Academy of Fine Arts 3-week Course led by Rossella Biscotti and assisted by Isabel Van Bos situated in the Hohensalzburg Fortress in Salzburg which culminated in an open studios exhibition where Dew showed the works Take a Seat, 2022, My Tiny Little Table for your Tiny Little Chair, 2022, Father, I love you as much as Salt, 2022

The original Salzburg settlers and miners of salt were Celtic, the remnants of their past were found within burials in the surrounding mountains. The Celtic community of Salzburg were especially known for their riches, as salt- the bringer of taste- was seen as worthy as gold and silver. It can be seen the Celtic sacred sentimentality of food and feast as vessels and flagons were regularly exhumed from resting places during archaeological digs. 

Communal gatherings of good food have brought people together for millenniums, whether it be ceremonial meals or the everyday sit down with friends and family. In stories passed down through generations such as The Necessity of Salt, we are taught of the King’s daughter confessing her admiration of her father through the common seasoning- understanding the quality of life it brings in the everyday. 

And so, in my three-week relocation to Salzburg, it has been food, feast, and an occasional drink that has brought classes of Salzburg Academy together. But in reality, it has been salt that has brought satisfaction. 

Even though common, it is a treasure. It brings together community. It brings together family. It brings together international strangers. It is necessity.

it is early morning and the sun still regards you with some mercy as you make your way up the steep incline,

trudging slowly like a pack mule, equally burdened by heavy weight.

you wonder: did anyone ever send up donkeys on the same path, loaded with nothing but sacks or sand from the riverbed?

people walk past you, do you reckon they know what it is you are carrying on your back?

(a burial mound)

the sun shows less mercy than you thought.

sweat and tears flow into your work. more sweat than tears, you realise, as you finally unload and stretch to get rid of the soreness.

your lower back is drenched.

Evelin Balogh, 2022

there is a common denominator —transcending time, religious practise, geographical separation— when it comes to funerary rituals:

Food

कदाचत,् as well as today, an offering of pindas —balls of cooked rice, mixed with ghee, black sesame seeds, honey, and milk— to the ancestors is made during hindu funeral rites, appeasing the preta, the “hungry ghost” and easing the passage between this life and what lies beyond.

simply sustenance in any other context, food becomes pivotal, caring hands shaping the ingredients into a form of communication, a form of guidance, a form of love.

fota, fota, fota, stately collections consisting of spits, cauldrons, wine flagons, mixing vessels, dishes, drinking horns, goblets, and communal tankards, found their way into celtic tombs unearthed here in salzburg.

a proposed, alternate (simplified, down-to-the-bone) reading of the previous sentence: in life —as in death— feasts, revelry, and hospitality were held in high regard.

white gold in abundance, banishing bland offences against the taste buds of our forebears.

olim, the mourning family would gather in the catacombs underneath rome for the annual refrigerium. crowding closer —to each other, to the dead—, filling up the narrow space, they would eat and drink.

exploring the winding paths today, one can occasionally find a bench and tabletop protruding from the wall as an extension of the fresco depicting the deceased eating a meal, their expression serene, facing forward —frontality as a form of contact between the living and the dead— as one can’t help but look into those big, almond-shaped eyes.

 

once upon a time, life at the dinner table got disrupted when a household member died. where else to put the body? other than the long, wooden table top as the village prepares the grave, the priest prepares the last sermon, and the family of the deceased prepares to first grieve, and then learn to move on.

things have changed, now the dead don’t linger in the space of the living, in the living space.

and the table is once again set for dinner.

Take a seat 

let’s share a meal,

a dead person (a burial mound) —this time— so graciously provided beneath the cotton canvas tablecloth.

 

Evelin Balogh, 2022

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