Ask Me About Salt, 2010
A series of performance walks
Visualeyez Performance Art Festival
Framed as an improvised walk around downtown Edmonton, this was the first of Cutler’s performances that engaged with the mineral sodium chloride. Dressed in white and carrying a custom designed salt apron, the artist wandered the streets offering salt tasting to passers-by sharing mass produced table salt, Himalayan rock salt, Smoked Alderwood salt, Hawaiian clay salt and Fleur de sel from Brittany. Through these savory comparisons, she initiated conversations through the sharing of stories, anecdotes and information concerning the use of salt in food and its related health issues. Cutler also drew on the sidewalk with salt evoking spiritual rituals and magical rites.
Salt is used in almost every industry from manufacturing pulp and paper, setting dyes in textiles and fabric, removing snow and ice from roads, softening water, preserving food, and stabilizing soils for construction. Its use in the ammunitions industry seems to be a well-kept secret. As food grade table salt only accounts for 18% of global salt production, its rendering process removes most of the beneficial components in this indispensable mineral. Salt has a rich and deep history including the Chinese harvesting the mineral since 6000 BC, the salt caravans (Azalai) practiced by Tuareg traders in the Sahara Desert and its use in rituals of purification, magical protection, and blessings.