In japanese culture, salt is a traditional symbol for purification and mourning, often used in funeral rituals. Following the death of his sister, Japanese artist Motoi Yamamoto started using salt as a medium, creating intricate labyrinths and mazes. In his culture, the salt is placed in small piles at the entrance to restaurants and businesses to fight off evil spirits, but what he does with it is breathtaking in a tranquil way. Yamamoto manages to create a deep connection with the mineral, all the while mourning the death of his sister.
Creating labyrinths could be a way of preserving his memories of her, enclosing her between walls and circles. The interesting part is when one realizes the paradox in the medium: salt is easily effaceable, blown away, just like memories. Yet, the installations work on a deeper level as Yamamoto has to take part in them -he knows all the exits and the entrances, but chooses instead to ignore them, focusing instead on enclosing memories of his sister.
Yamamoto’s artworks are rooted in themes of life, death, and rebirth, and his manipulation of salt acts as a performance of grief and pain. There is a palpable tranquility that emerges from his pieces, especially given the fact that they could disappear forever at any blow of the wind.