To us brutish North Americans, salt is just a spice that makes food taste good. To the Japanese, it carries deep symbolic meaning as an essential element for purifying body and soul during death rituals.
Japanese artist Motoi Yamamoto starting making his intricate, maze-like "saltworks" after the untimely passing of his sister due to brain cancer. Traces of brain scans and networks of neural nerves are visible throughout the labirynthine works, alluding to that tragic loss.
"Drawing a labyrinth with salt is like following a trace of my memory," said the artist. "Memories seem to change and vanish as time goes by. However, what I seek is the way in which I can touch a precious moment in my memories that cannot be attained through pictures or writings."
After each exhibition is complete, Motoi requests that the salt is returned to the ocean to make its journey full circle. The impermanence aspect seems to echo the meaning behind these haunting meditations on life and death. Heavy stuff.