ONE RAKIA FOR THE DEAD
mixed media, performance
In almost every culture, alcohol holds a specific place. Many times it represents simply a banal tool of self-indulgence, but it also holds enormous powerful potential. I am not equipped to dig too deeply into the global social meanings of it, but I can speak from my viewpoint. In the Balkan, at least, homemade rakia holds a special place in the heart of the people. It is very much an alchemical process, to make good rakia. And when done well, it is really the cure for wounds of any kind. It is a purifier in many ways and one of the most powerful uses of it, in my opinion, is when drunk in memory of the dead.
The work consists of a wheel of fortune, a book, a tablecloth, two small glasses and a bottle of rakia, all placed on a table. The wheel of fortune has 14 parts, each of them representing a different healing plant that can be easily found in forests, fields or valleys in eastern europe and
Balkan, and that a lot of our grandmothers have or had circulating in their homes at all times. In the book, old folk recipes mentioning those and many other plants can be found.
Next to the table, I am sitting on a chair with my musical instrument. There is only one song played live by me for the duration of the performance, in intervals. The song is mine, and the lyrics speak of endless travels. First, the song is played, then the visitors are called to come and drink one glass of rakia in memory of the dead, following which they are invited to spin the wheel of fortune and get their guardian plant. After that, the glasses are washed in a bowl, wiped, and placed again on the table. This circle of actions is repeated until the bottle is emptied and the purification process has managed to make a cycle.
photos by Nenad Glavan for MSU and Sarah Dubny