This precious food item composed of white mineral of specific taste is ubiquitous and easily accessible, and above all, necessary for human life. Salt is an integral part of our lives, it plays a pivotal role in many physiological processes of the body, and it has also had various social uses throughout history, as a means of payment, substance to prevent infections, a preservative, and even as a magical substance used in religious rituals. Most of these practices are no longer in use in modern society. However, different beliefs and sayings associated with this chemical compound are still part of the living tradition of the Slavic people.
Proverbs, practices and customs closely related to salt, therapeutic marine environment and tradition of sea salt production are the backbone of Darija Jelincic's work who, through video work and series of photographs, sometimes with accompanying objects, presents her artistic and research project called Salt with a kind of museological approach. The artist creates works without excessive mystification and pretentiousness, and her specific artistic sensibility echoes with softness, tenderness and minimalism of expression. In addition to the dominant landscape motifs, the link between most of the other works is the ancient human need and effort to directly manipulate the forces of nature, and thus one's own destiny, using various procedures. By depicting her own body covered in salt, the artist invokes luck, referring to one of the beliefs associated with evocation magic, while putting salt in the four corners of the house, hanging salt bags in the four corners of the crib or placing a glass of salt water by the bed at night is seen as apotropaic magic, functioning as protection against invisible negative forces. Used in optimal proportions and conditions, salt purifies, protects, preserves and nourishes whereas its excessive or insufficient use results in an imbalance that destroys life in water or on land, so in a figurative sense, salt symbolizes the need to establish balance in every aspect of life. This thought also runs through the holy books, for example, in the words that Jesus addresses to all of us: “You are the salt of the Earth”, but in the context of maintaining a moral balance, because when salt is part of a human experience, it enriches that which already exists.
Amid recent and even long-lasting events happening at the local and global level, Darija Jelincic points to a potential source of security, stability and motivation existing within the traditional frameworks, to the customs and beliefs that are gradually falling into oblivion, which point to close connection between the cosmic forces and human spirituality, to the need of establishing a psychophysical harmony. Maybe we should put some sea salt in our pockets for good luck, just in case, although many will see the need to take this advice with a grain of salt.
(Text by Sara Mikelić about the project "Salt")