Arsenic Eaters

Simon Brugner
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Arsenic Eaters is Simon Brugner's project through which he traces the consumption of arsenic in Austria, a practice that lasted till the first half of the 20th century.

Brugner tells that consumption of arsenic which was widespread among physical laborers, miners and woodsmen discontinued in time, and almost perished completely. The reason for the discontinuance of this practice was that there was no historical record about the substance which was forbidden both in legal and religios terms. Although the practice is a taboo in the area where he spent his childhood, he reflects that he talks about the subject with his 80-year old grandmother occasionally.

The evidence he found as regards to the subject were refined arsenic he had seen in a pharmacy museum, and small-scale mines that were abandoned almost a century ago. Also, a citation from the 1860 dated "Boston Medical and Surgical Journal": "Some people were in the habit of ingesting a mineral matter called ‘Hydrach' a couple of days a week in order to improve their sight and ease respiration during mountain climbing. What is called Hydrach used for precaution and sanitation purposes is actually arsenic. The constitution of these individuals gains a special strength that makes them considerably immune to arsenic. Also, the immediate effect of the substance on the constitution renders them more active, strong and potent."

Brugner carries on with his project. The novelty of the subject and the impressiveness of the images reminds us of Nietzsche's famous phrase: "That which does not kill us makes us stronger."