Salt comprises a suite of site-specific sculptures, an installation of stylized flowers created with over 700 articles of used clothing as well as photographs and a documentary video. The exhibition is the result of months of research conducted by the artist in the salt villages in Vietnam, from Hai Hau in the north to Sa Huynh in the central and Ba Ria-Vung Tau and Can Gio in the south. The exhibition, however, is not simply a documentary or a tribute to the salt communities; Salt reflects Nguyen Phuong Linh’s continued interest in sexuality and femininity, transformation and the ephemeral. Her work is often both sensual and sexual, humble and exalted.
For Salt, Nguyen Phuong Linh has created sculptures made completely of this destructive, corrosive, yet life- sustaining mineral. As viewers enter the exhibition, they are confronted with an elegant, pod-shaped sculpture that appears like a beached boat. The compressed salt that makes up the sculpture alludes to the origin and travels of the boat itself – its passage through the saline seas, its surface weathered by exposure to the elements (salt is, after all, the natural enemy of boats).
Referencing the stark, spare colors of the salt fields, Nguyen Phuong Linh has created a minimal landscape of over one hundred perfect salt mounds of varying sizes. The sculptures will become less recognizable as mounds as they gradually dissolve during the exhibition leaving traces of salty fluid on the gallery floor. The lone salt pyramid in this landscape, resting on a tray filled with earth, will transform into a softer, more feminine form as water drips onto it from above, runs down its sides and is absorbed into the soil. Over the duration of the show, viewers will be able to witness actual salt crystals forming on the surface of the soil.