Artist : Motoi Yamamoto

One of the comments made on my last post about installation artist, Jean Shin, was by Kristin L. She had a great question: How do installations move around? Of course, each exhibit varies but Motoi Yamamoto's salt installations have a very unique answer to that question.

Labyrinth by Motoi Yamamoto. March-May 2012
Incredible, no? But when you see these in the scale of a museum, they're even more amazing.

Labyrinth by Motoi Yamamoto.
September - December 2012
Yamamoto began this series after the early death of his sister at the age of twenty four to brain cancer. He had worked in other mediums, like glass, but it was at her funeral in Japan that salt began to play a role in his work. Salt is thrown over your shoulder as part of a purification ritual after a Shinto funeral. His first works were made in private as a way to remember his sister.

Labyrinth by Motoi Yamamoto.
As Yamamoto began to work in the medium, he learned so many other important human needs for salt: for humans health, as a food preservative, even as a form of money. I just read yesterday the word salary comes from sal i.e. salt when salt was used as currency during roman times.

Labyrinth by Motoi Yamamoto.

These installations have also become a sort of labyrinth, a symbol of being born and life itself. How fitting then to have a labyrinth made of salt. Yamamoto says he often has at least one vivid dream of his sister when working on each piece.

Labyrinth by Motoi Yamamoto.
Regarding installation, the museums and galleries are often open during his slow on site process of making each piece. He often works up to twelve hours a day to complete a piece. Here's a video showing the installation in progress.

And at the end? All of the salt is returned to the sea during a public ritual called umini kaeru. It was a janitor at an exhibition in South Carolina that thought it was tragic to simply throw the piece away and suggested a ritual should take place.

See more of Yamamoto's works on his website. His work can be seen right now in the US, at the Laband Gallery at Layola Marymount College in Los Angeles until December 7th. I feel honored to have visited his hometown ten years ago in Kanazawa, Japan. A beautiful town by the sea, I can see how this city could have inspired him.


Ellen Vesters said...

So impressive.
Love the idea of a ritual as the closing of an exhibition...

ronnie said...

more and more I find myself drawn to works of this ilk - labour intensive, ephemeral, experiential, non-possessive, simple yet sublime....

Kristin L said...

Ditto what Ronnie said. The ephemeral quality, and the scale of this work make it all the more beautiful. A ritual return of the salt to it's origins seems fitting. Thank you for sharing this and responding to my questions.

lisa s said...

i love his work.
discovered him when researching salt as a medium for a project that never happened.
thank you for making me think of him again.

blandina said...

I am amazed by his work, and by his philosophy. Thinking that such labour intensive work will soon be destroyed gives me a feeling of loss and waste. Maybe because I live here, sorrounded by so many tangible works of art of the past, it never crossed my mind that art could be ephemeral.

Lari Washburn said...

This work is so beautiful. The impermanence is beautiful. For me it reinforces that we over value thinking in every aspect of life, and would benefit from the practice of just being still. ANd the art that would emerge from that, well...


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