Never Give Up the Fruit, 2012

Mouth-blown glass lit melons hanging from wooden beams.

The blown-glass melon lamp installation by Slavs and Tatars takes on another narrative in St. Pölten: a story about water and resistance. The glowing yellow and green pieces light the interior of the glasshouse of the Mevlana Mosque. Their translucent material and shape appeal to the fruit’s watery quality and fragrant dew.  


Grounded in their artistic practice, which is described as a “faction of polemics and intimacies devoted to an area east of the former Berlin Wall and west of the Great Wall of China that is known as Eurasia”, Never Give Up The Fruit explores the melon’s symbolic significance, which represents both indulgence and resilience. Initially cultivated for their hydrating properties, melons and watermelons were stored for consumption during dry periods, serving not only as nourishment but also as a means of storing water. Archaeological discoveries of their seeds in ancient settlements in the Dead Sea region underscore their significance. 


Originating in Northeast Africa and later cultivated in Egypt around 2000 BC, the fruits’ allure lay in their hydrating properties and ability to offer a prolonged source of sustenance in cool, shaded areas. Remnants of watermelons have even been found in the tombs of Egyptian pharaohs, where they were placed as a source of water during the long journey after death. Crimean Tatars are believed to have brought watermelons to the Kherson region in Ukraine centuries ago. During World War Two, residents of the region resorted to boiling watermelons to create molasses or jam to fight sugar shortages. 


In 2023, the watermelon became a symbol of the local victory following the liberation of Kherson from Russian occupation. Transcending its botanical identity as a source of hydration, the watermelon has evolved into a powerful symbol of resistance in Palestinian culture that circumvents the ban on displaying the Palestinian flag. 

  • Die Kunstinstallation von Slavs & Tatars
    © Philipp Ottendörfer
  • Die Kunstinstallation von Slavs & Tatars
    © Simon Veres
© Molla-Nasreddin

Slavs and Tatars is an internationally renowned art collective devoted to an area East of the former Berlin Wall and West of the Great Wall of China known as Eurasia. Since its inception in 2006, the collective has shown a keen grasp of polemical issues in society, clearing new paths for contemporary discourse via a wholly idiosyncratic form of knowledge production: including popular culture, spiritual and esoteric traditions, oral histories, modern myths, as well as scholarly research. Their work has been the subject of solo exhibitions at institution across the globe, including the Vienna Secession; MoMA, New York; Salt, Istanbul; Albertinum Dresden, amongst others. The collective’s practice is based on three activities: exhibitions, publications, and lecture-performances. The collective has published more than twelve books to date. In 2020, Slavs and Tatars opened Pickle Bar, a slavic aperitivo bar-cum-project space a few doors down from their studio in the Moabit district of Berlin.