It was the death of Motoi Yamamoto‘s sister that led to his career in salt installations. Motoi had worked in a dockyard for much of his 22 years. But after his sister’s untimely passing at the age of 24 due to brain cancer, he began thinking about what he had and lost, and prolifically producing art work much like a diary.
“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,” he describes in his artist profile. “In Japan, [salt] is indispensable in the death culture… In the beginning, I was interested in the fact that salt is used in funerals or in its subtle transparency. But gradually, I came to a point where the salt in my work might have been a part of some creature and supported their lives. Now I believe that salt enfolds the memory of lives.”
Now with a B.A. from the Kanazawa College of Art, Motoi has since been awarded the Philip Morris Art Award (2002), as well as grants from The Pollock-Krasner Foundation in New York, and the Voyager + AIT Scholarship Program in Tokyo. His body of work—ephemeral pieces that have made their way around the worlds—have likewise been gaining much attention for his meticulous methods and poignant craft.