Salt Piece

by Jörg Lenzlinger


These delicate structures grow spontaneously from solutions of salts, including ordinary table salt. Salts mixed into water creep slowly up paper tubes, drip onto fabric, and seep down the cotton strings suspended above. As the water in the solution evaporates, the salt crystallizes. The color and character of the crystal depend on the type of salt. The crystals grow slowly, but eventually the long vines hanging above will reach down to the table.

Dimensions: 65" x 108" x 65" Weight: 400 lbs.

Artist's Comments:

These fragile structures grow spontaneously from salt and fertilizer solutions. Besides regular table salt you see how copper, iron, chrome, and other salt-type things slowly crystallize. Saturated solutions are crawling out of their containers, spreading out, and shooting into the air. While the water evaporates, the salt crystallizes.

We do not see a single crystal growing, but countless tiny crystals building up shapes-reminding us of corals, plants, landscapes, or clouds.

The different characters are influenced by the composition of the liquids. By adding a tiny amount of a certain substance, the whole structure can change completely. But the tempature and humidity of the room, the air movement, the carrier-material, the starting point can influence the growth.

It is not possible to repeat the same process with the exact same result, like you cannot drink the same glass of water twice. You won't be able to calculate the process by formulas. Just by working with the salt and looking at the slow changes can you learn about it.

Following the reaction of two salt mixtures on the table, it looks like a meeting of human characters: attraction, rejection, indifference. In our time the material value of salt is very low, people lost respect for this essential force. Many cultures worshiped salt because it was rare, and they know we can't live without it. It became the first kind of money. We still have it in the word salary. To spill it means bad luck and offering it with bread means friendship.