Musings: Motoi Yamamoto

Motoi Yamamoto, Floating Garden (making of) salt; Solo Show / Return to the Sea: Salt works by Motoi Yammoto; The Mint Museum, Charlotte, NC, USA; March - May 2013


Motoi Yamamoto creates hypnotizing installations with salt, often on the floors of galleries and museums, working with the unique cracks of each floor. Because he uses salt, his installations are temporary and always take the shape of the space in which they are created. In Japanese culture, salt is considered a purifying agent and is the symbol for a source of life.


He slowly traces interwoven patterns with the salt in what has been labeled an act of meditation for the artist. Yamamoto reveals that many of his works, including “Labyrinth,” are an effort to retrace memories of his deceased sister…tracing over and over again, all the connected memories he has, in an effort to trace back to her life and their many shared memories. His works have been titled “Return to the Sea” because of the closing ceremony involved with each instillation, when the public is invited to take apart his works, and throw the salt back into the ocean. This ceremony symbolizes salt returning to its origin, a metaphor for our bodies returning to the earth.


Many Yamamoto pieces focus on the concept of birth, death, and rebirth, and their continuing pattern. “Labyrinth” was a pattern that he had borrowed from the Europeans that signified this cycle, but more recently Yamamoto identified the swell of an ocean as a more Asian pattern signifying birth, death and rebirth. “The pattern of a swell is both going into the center and coming out of the center…I think the moment where the spiral meets in and out of the center is the time of being reborn,” says Yamamoto.


Learn more about his work here.


Motoi Yamamoto, Labyrinth; Salt; Neo-Ornamentalism from Japanese Contemporary Art; Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo, Japan 2010; Photo by Em Yamaguchi


Photo via Motoi Yamamoto


Photo via Motoi Yamamoto


 Photo via Motoi Yamamoto


 Photo via Motoi Yamamoto


 Photo Via Ben Wolf


left: Motoi Yamamoto, Labyrinth; Solo Exhibition: Salz / Kunst-Station St. Peter Cologne, Germany; April - June, 2010; right: Motoi Yamamoto, making of a saltwork, photo by Makoto Morimura.


Photo via Salt Lake Tribune


Photo by Makoto Morisawa