31 October 2012
Motoi Yamamoto takes one of the earth’s oldest, most sought-after mineral elements and creates elaborate and painstakingly detailed installations. His material of choice is regular table salt, but you might miss that when gazing down upon one of his saltscapes. In some ways reminiscent of Tibetan salt mandalas, Yamamoto’s works are expansive and often stretch to cover entire gallery floors with their elaborate patterns. (He’s also made work in churches and soy sauce breweries). Sometimes his patterns evoke byzantine labyrinths. Other times, they are like metrological projections of typhoons. But the root of Yamamoto’s work lay in something more personal. More than halfway through art school in 1996, his sister passed away from brain cancer. The resulting shock and grief prompted Yamamoto to abandon his work in traditional painting in search of something more fundamental. Because salt is a funerary material in Japanese culture meant to help cleanse one of grief, it was a natural choice for the artist. But salt also engenders more grandiose notions about life and the passage of time, thoughts which Yamamoto shared with The Avant/Garde Diaries on a trip to the ancient salt flats outside of Salt Lake City, Utah.
Produced by Brady Welch / Associate Production by Arden Sherman / Camera, Sound, and Editing by Brett Novak / Photo by Brady Welch / Music by Winston Morris / Shot on location in Wendover, Utah and Laband Art Gallery at Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles