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.