“I want to be in my work,” Japanese artist Motoi Yamamoto tells Avant/Garde audiences, as he explains how he came to producing the saltscape installation works for which he’s now famous. Yamamoto’s desire to be inside the work is a little more complicated than its physical properties, though—his sister died of brain cancer in 1994, and in Japan, salt is a medium used in funerals. “I want to heal my grief,” he says.
His detail-rich floor installations evoke the painstakingly elaborate work of Tibetan salt mandalas, while simultaneously reflecting the expansive Salt Lake skies he’s shot under for this latest Avant/Garde spotlight. Others resemble labyrinths or storm patterns, while the most elaborate are interior spaces carved entirely out of salt.
The Avant/Garde Diaries trip to the ancient salt flats outside Salt Lake City, Utah, prove especially moving; the viewer is quite literally overwhelmed by the size and scale of the landscape. “Theme is more important [to my work]; death and life and rebirth,” Yamamoto tells us, before gesturing to the lake and exclaiming, “Here is the best place in the world!”