MAY 1, 2019
7pm - 9pm
What a simple thing is salt. It is a seasoning readily available on your dinner table now, but for most of human history, salt has had the economic significance that oil has today. Wars were waged, revolutions were ignited and empires collapsed because of salt.
Before earth moving equipment was invented, mining salt was one of the most expensive and dangerous jobs. However, since salt was such a valuable and sought after commodity, mine owners tried to keep operational costs down through enslavement. Salt miners experienced rapid dehydration caused by constant contact with salt in the mines as well as salt dust scattered in the air. They also suffered other health problems borne of accidental intake of excessive sodium. The turnover rate of these workers was as high as their life expectancy was low.
This narrative may sound harsh and excessive, but it is relevant to our current time. If we look at what is considered legal and moral by today’s labour standards, would some elements of this narrative sound familiar?
Artistrophe’s moving memorial serves as a haunting reminder of Toronto workers who have lost their lives on the job.
Commissioned by Toronto’s Mayworks Festival of Working People and the Art. Presented in collaboration with Jane-Finch Action Against Poverty and United Steelworkers District 6.