Motoi Yamamoto sculpts with salt.  I find his work a little confounding, it’s formality brings up such varied feelings.  Of course, the whole execution is stunning.  And it fits nicely into the genre of conceptual art.  Salt, a basic building block of life.  Salt, sculpted into a labyrinth seemingly without end.  Salt, a mediation on grief.  His work was recently featured on the NPR site.  A more satisfying overview is on the Force of Nature site.  It has a fuller explanation of how the artist sees his work.  And two time-lapse videos of the construction process as well as some detail photos like the one below.

As a Westerner I feel at a disadvantage in trying to decode what I am seeing.  I feel there is something about this that is very “Japanese”.  There is a carefulness, a haunting perfection, a sense of ritual and frozen motion that remind me of their classical treatment of waves, fabric and ancient design.  A study in patience.  Quiet movement. I like how each line fits within another line, in a gentle curve ever unfolding.   

I think the process of making the work must be a kind of catharsis for the artist.  The discipline required boggles the mind.  And yet the rigidity of the concept carries within it a greater and refined beauty.  Much of it due to Mr. Yamamoto’s exquisite sense of design.   

And here’s how I understand it: within the labyrinth lays, perhaps, the totality of a life. Each turn the pulse of a beating heart, one’s path so clearly outlined, yet only understood in the totality of the viewing.  Life unfolding, moving, reaching and yet constantly turning in upon itself.  And profoundly impermanent.