Salt, the most essential mineral for maintaining human health, was so important in places where it was scarce that the Roman army was partly paid with it. It was called it ‘salarium’, from where the word ‘salary’ has originated. However, using salt as an artistic material is something quite unique.
The Japanese salt artist Motoi Yamamoto uses salt to create his one-of-a-kind large-scale intricate installations. Of course, these remain temporary in nature. It was while mourning the death of his sister that he forged a connection with this white mineral. He started creating art out of this substance to preserve her memories. Says he on mikikosatogallery.com, “I want to feel the core of my memories deep inside me again.”
Yamamoto uses a small bottle filled with salt and draws with it, as it flows out of a nozzle, much like ink from a pen. It’s certainly a wonder to see him create labyrinthine formations on the ground. His creations are only limited by his imagination. Some of his works are reminiscent of galaxies deep in space, while others provide a microscopic glimpse of structures usually invisible to the naked eye. His variety is simply mind-boggling.
According to Yamamoto, his salt installations symbolize purification in Japan. He urges his viewers to collect the salt at the end of each installation and consign it in the waters of this world, that is, where it came from. For this, he involves the viewers in wiping out his installation, collecting the salt, and delivering it back to the sea, the place of its origin.
This incredible salt artist was born in Onomichi City, Japan, and graduated from Kanazawa College of Art, Department of Painting, in Kanazawa, Japan. He has exhibited his works both at home and abroad. His works have been displayed at the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo in Tokyo, Japan, the Hakone Open Air Museum in Kanagawa, Japan, the Setouchi International Art Festival in Kagawa, Japan, and the MoMA PS1 Museum of Modern Art in New York, USA. He’s also a recipient of the Philip Morris KK Art Award 2002. He currently resides in Japan’s Kanazawa City.