Winnipeg Arts Council

Salt Fat Sugar & Your Water is Safe: a project for the commons

Salt Fat Sugar & Your Water Is Safe considers food, animals, and the farm in relation to the commons, trade, and spiritual traditions. In this work, basic elements such as water, salt, fat, and sugar are invoked as poetic devices. Bringing together these seemingly disparate elements provokes contemplation and sheds light on a set of historical, social, and economic relations within advanced industrialism that often go unnoticed.

Salt Fat Sugar & Your Water Is Safe points to historical trade in commodities such as grease, pemmican, salt, sugar beets and honey along this part of the Red River. It suggests by turns the history of people, animals, work, and buying and selling. Its symbolism revolves around food production, the shrinking commons, the artistic avant-garde, and concrete poetry.

Through this work, the artist suggests a set of schisms in our world between our nature and industry, the commons and the private.


This work is was created through the Winnipeg Arts Council’s Public Art Program in collaboration with Winnipeg Transit, PCL, and Plenary Group as part of Winnipeg's SouthWest Rapid Transitway expansion project.

Bill Burns

Bill Burns was born into a book selling family in Regina, Saskatchewan. He received an MA from Goldsmiths College in London where he worked with Gerard Hemsworth and John Latham. Since that time his work about nature and civil society has been shown at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London; the KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin; the Museum of Modern Art, New York and the Seoul Museum of Art, Seoul. He has published more than a dozen artist books and audio recordings with publishers such as Walther Konig in Cologne and Space Poetry in Copenhagen. He has been Artistic Director of the Dogs and Boats and Airplanes choir since 2010.

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