To say Motoï Yamamoto suffers for his art is understatement. The Tokyo-based artist spent 25 hours hunched on his knees creating his latest installation, 'Floating Garden', at La Galerie Particulière in Paris. Using a plastic bottle with a narrow nozzle, he painstakingly 'drew' thousands of arcs of salt - a traditional symbol for purification and mourning in Japanese culture - as if multiplying on the concrete floor of the 'deuxième galerie'. The result is part mind-bending maze, part Tibetan 'mandala'.
The Japanese are familiar with the presence of salt as an icon. Often it's placed in piles at shop entrances to ward off evil spirits, in paths at funerals or even at sumo matches. Yamamoto adopted it as a medium after the death of his sister at age 24 from cancer. It was a way for him to preserve the past.
'Drawing with salt,' he says, 'is like following a trace of my memory. Memories seem to change and vanish as time goes by. What I seek is to capture a frozen moment that cannot be attained through pictures or writings.' Floating Garden is a 'mental map' that translates ineffable, ephemeral thoughts into something more tangible.
Just as important to the artist as the finished installation is the meditative process and the dismantling of each project at the end of its run. The weekend before the Floating Garden launch, Yamamoto worked through the night in the tapestry gallery of Paris' Hôtel de Ville to create 'Labyrinthe'; the process was open to the public as part of the Nuit Blanche programme of events. After Floating Garden runs its course at Galerie Particulière, he will sweep up every grain and return it to the sea in a ritual that highlights the role salt plays in the cycle of life.
The dazzling whiteness and organic energy give Floating Garden an arresting beauty and vitality that belie the sombre concept. So that tear in your eye may just as easily be one of joy.