Motoi Yamamoto (1966), sculpture and installation.
Japanese artist Yamamoto Motoi was born in Hiroshima, Japan, and worked in a dockyard until he was 22 when he decided to focus on art full-time.
Motoi is known for working with salt, often in the form of temporary, intricate, large-scale installations. Salt, a traditional symbol for purification and mourning in Japanese culture, is used in funeral rituals and by sumo wrestlers before matches. It is frequently placed in small piles at the entrance to restaurants and other businesses to ward off evil spirits and to attract benevolent ones. Motoi forged a connection to the substance while mourning the death of his sister, at the age of twenty-four, from brain cancer, and began to create art out of salt in an effort to preserve his memories of her. His art radiates an intense beauty and tranquility, but also conveys something ineffable, painful, and endless.
“Drawing a labyrinth with salt is like following a trace of my memory. Memories seem to change and vanish as time goes by; however, what I seek is to capture a frozen moment that cannot be attained through pictures or writings,” Motoi has said. “What I look for at the end of the act of drawing could be a feeling of touching a precious memory.”
Although he creates basic guidelines and conditions for each piece, the works are almost entirely improvised with mistakes and imperfections often left intact during hundreds of hours of meticulous pouring. After each piece has been on view for several weeks, the public is invited to communally destroy each work and help package the salt into bags and jars, after which it is thrown back into the ocean