Japanese installation artist, Motoi Yamamoto, is an incredibly patient man, so patient that he will spend 50 hours or more crouched on the floor as he draws out his intricate and delicate mazes. He uses hundreds of pounds of refined salt piped out of a plastic squeeze bottle to construct what he appropriately calls his Labyrinths. At the end of the installation's show, visitors are asked to collect the salt from the floor and then everyone travels to the ocean or a river to return it to the water.
Yamamoto has constructed close to 30 of these mazes since he started working with salt in 2001. His began working with salt a decade ago after his sister passed away from brain cancer. In Japan, salt is a symbol for purification and mourning, so his drawings and sketches were a way of honoring her and expressing a sense of eternity. Yamamoto starts his work in the back of the installation and works his way forward so as not to touch or cross over his previous work.
His recent installations include a massive circular project on the floors of the Saint Peter Cologne as part of their artist program in the Spring of 2010. Mass was performed around the installation for a couple months and at the end, a group of children collected the salt and dumped it into the Rhine River, where eventually it will return to the sea. In a sense, this is a Cradle to Cradle art installation. Before Cologne, Yamamoto did an installation at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Tokyo, Japan. A recent installation at the Fondation Espace Ecureuil, a gallery in France, is built into a brick tunnel with mounds of salt at the back morphing into the delicate maze near the front. For this installation, Yamamoto required 2,200 pounds of salt!
His latest installation is in Marseilles and is a bit of a departure from his typical linear labyrinth pattern and resembles something more like lace. There is something incredibly poetic about all of his work, from the painstaking details, his hours on the floor, all the way to how the installation is taken away and returned to the sea.
Images ©Motoi Yamamoto and Stefan Worring