For Immediate Release

Return to the Sea: Saltworks by Motoi Yamamoto

LOS ANGELES - The Laband Art Gallery at LMU will open Return to the Sea: Saltworks by Motoi Yamamoto on September 8, 2012 with an artist’s reception from 4-6pm. The centerpiece of the exhibition will be a site-specific salt-scape on the floor of the gallery. The public is encouraged to visit the galleries during the artist’s residency August 29-31 and September 4-6, 2012 to watch Motoi create his salt installation.

About the Exhibition

The Laband Art Gallery is pleased to present the exhibition, Return to the Sea: Saltworks by Motoi Yamamoto. Japanese artist Motoi Yamamoto is known for working with the basic, but unusual, material of salt, often in the form of temporary, intricate, large-scale installations. At the Laband, along with his “Floating Garden” floor installation, salt drawings and photographs will also be on display. A video will offer more insight into Motoi’s installation process. A delicately drawn, 31½ foot-long scroll will hang in the atrium of LMU’s William H. Hannon Library.

Yamamoto forged a connection to salt while mourning the death of his sister at the age of twenty-four from brain cancer. He began to create art out of the element in an effort to preserve his memories of her. Salt, a traditional symbol for purification and mourning in Japanese culture is used in funeral rituals and by sumo wrestlers before matches. It is frequently placed in small piles at the entrance to restaurants and other businesses toward off evil spirits and to attract benevolent ones. Yamamoto’s art radiates an intense beauty and tranquility, but also something ineffable, painful, and endless.

Yamamoto says, “Drawing a labyrinth with salt is like following a trace of my memory. Memories seem to change and vanish as time goes by; however, what I seek is to capture a frozen moment that cannot be attained through pictures or writings. What I look for at the end of the act of drawing could be a feeling of touching a precious memory.”

Yamamoto views his installations as exercised that are at once futile, yet necessary to his healing. An important aspect of the installation is the dismantling of his work at the end of the show and delivering the salt back to the water, usually in collaboration with the public; hence, the title Return to the Sea. On the last day of the exhibition, December 8th, the public will be invited to participate in collecting the salt from the installation and returning it to the Pacific Ocean.

Yamamoto will be in residency at the Laband Art Gallery and the public will be invited to come observe the making of his site-specific salt work (August 29-31 and September 4-6, 2012). There will be a range of other events and programs in conjunction with the exhibition. Along with the opening reception (September 8), the Laband will also host the presentation of the Japanese Noh play Matsukaze [Pining Wind], a lecture and performance by artist, Japanese archery master, and Buddhist priest Hirokazu Kosaka, a gallery walkthrough with Laband Director and Curator Carolyn Peter, and a closing ceremony. Please see below for dates, times, and more details on the programming.

The exhibition was curated by Mark Sloan, director and senior curator at the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art at the College of Charleston. The exhibition features a video produced by Sloan and Emmy award-winning videographer John Reynolds that includes interviews with Yamamoto at his studio in Kanazawa, Japan, insight into his creative process, still images and time-lapse videos of many of his previous installations, and an overview of the fascinating history of salt in Japanese culture.

More About Motoi Yamamoto

Motoi Yamamoto is an internationally renowned artist who calls his native Japan home. He was born in Onomichi, Hiroshima in 1966 and received his BA from Kanazawa College of Art in 1995. He has exhibited his award-winning creations around the globe in such cities as Athens, cologne, Jerusalem, Mexico city, Seoul, Tokyo, and Toulouse. He was awarded the Phillip Morris Art Award in 2002 as well as the Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant in 2003. Although he participated in a group exhibition that same year at New York’s P.S. 1 and in another group exhibition, Force of Nature at the Halsey Institute in 2006, his work has yet to be widely seen in the United States. For more information, visit the artist’s website.

Exhibition Catalogue

An 150-page color catalogue accompanies the exhibition. It documents fourteen years of the artist’s saltworks around the world and features essays by Mark Sloan and Mark Kurlansky, author of the New York Times best seller, Salt, A World History.

Public Programs

Artist’s Residency and Installation

August 29-31 and September 4-6, 2012, 10-4pm
The public is invited to come watch the artist Motoi Yamamoto in action as he creates his site-specific salt installation “Floating Garden” on the floor of the gallery.

Opening Reception with the Artist

Saturday, September 8, 2012, 4-6pm
Laband Art Gallery
Please join us for light hors d’oeuvres and drinks to celebrate Motoi Yamamoto and the opening of the exhibition.

Theatrical Performance of Matsukaze - Pining Wind

Thursday, September 20, 2012, 5pm
Burns Fine Art Center Courtyard
In collaboration with LMU’s Theatre Program and Music Department, the Laband Art Gallery will present Matsukaze [Pining Wind], a Japanese Noh Theatre piece that explores many of the same themes found in Motoi Yamamoto’s work; the significance of salt, grief, humankind’s relation to the natural world, and the fleeting nature of life.

On the Veranda: Approach and Observation

Lecture and Performance by Hirokazu Kosaka
Thursday, October 18, 2012, 7pm
Laband Art Gallery and Murphy Recital Hall
Artist, Japanese archery master, and ordained Buddhist priest Hirokazu Kosaka will explore the themes found in Motoi Yamamoto’s work placing it in the context of contemporary Japanese art and culture in general.

Gallery Walkthrough with Laband Director Carolyn Peter

Wednesday, November 28, 7pm
Laband Art Gallery
Carolyn Peter, director and curator of the Laband Art Gallery will lead a walkthrough of the exhibition.

Closing Ceremony – Return to the Sea

Saturday, December 8, 2012, 1-4pm
Laband Art Gallery and Playa Del Rey Beach
The public is invited to come collect salt from the installation and travel with us by bus on a brief trip to the coast where we will return the salt to the sea. There will be a reception with live music (details forthcoming) at the gallery after our return to campus.

Exhibition Organizers & Support

Return to the Sea: Saltworks by Motoi Yamamoto was organized by the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art, College of Charleston School of the Arts.

The salt for the exhibition was generously donated by Morton Salt of Newark, CA.

The exhibition and the related programs have been made possible in part by the generous support of the College of Communication and Fine Arts, LMU’s Theatre Arts Program, LMU’s Music Department, the William H. Hannon Library, and MGS Architecture.

Press Kit

Motoi Yamamoto salt installation

Installation of Floating Garden at Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art, Charleston, South Carolina, May 2012.
Courtesy of the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art.‌‌