heARTbeat: Motoi Yamamoto’s Salt Installations Lead Us On a Journey

ColumnDrawing a labyrinth with salt is like following a trace of my memory. ~ Motoi Yamamoto

An art installation, by definition, assumes the viewer experiences the work where it is installed.  Looking in through the window of photographs limits our experience, but sometimes the peek has us longing to put ourselves there. Such are the salt works of Motoi Yamamoto.

Yamamoto says:

Many of my works take the form of labyrinths with complicated patterns, ruined and abandoned staircases or too narrow life-size tunnels, and all these works are made with salt.

His work with the medium began after the 1994 death of his sister, who died of brain cancer.  He adds:

Since then, I have had the dilemma, in grief and surprise, of thinking about what I had and lost. I started making art works that reflected such feelings and continue it as if I were writing a diary.


Working with salt is a tricky choice. Yamamoto finds the space, the conditions and the medium itself lead to the conclusion.

During the course of drawing, I cannot tell it if will reach the essential point till its very end because lines are curved or cut against my intention. It depends not only on my psychological or physical condition, but also on the condition of the floor or the level of humidity. I always silently follow the trace, that is controlled as well as uncontrolled from the start point after I have completed it.

Yamamoto’s ability to stay present leads us into his meditations with respect for the results, wonder at his vision, and a desire to put ourselves into the vastness he attains with little more than a pile of salt.

Motoi Yamamoto’s Labyrinth, 2012 is on view at Bellevue Arts Museum till May 27, 2012. Enjoy this video of Yamamoto installing the piece:

Inspired by Anna Brones who found the work on Trendland.

Eco, trends, art, creativity and how they tumble through social media to shape culture fascinate EcoSalon columnist Dominique Pacheco. Her trends blog, mixingreality, speaks to these topics daily, and here at EcoSalon, she takes a weekly look at the intersection of eco and art. We call it heARTbeat.

Dominique Pacheco

Dominique Pacheco is the author of EcoSalon's weekly heARTbeat column.