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CHRYSTALLINE

Dead Sea salt makes everyday objects into ethereal sculpture

By Hannah Yi

The Dead Sea is a special place for Israeli artist Sigalit Landau. As a child, she spent her Saturdays with her family there. She and her creative partner, the photographer Yotam From, exchanged their spiritual vows there. But most importantly, the lake has been Landau’s studio for the past 15 years.

The Dead Sea is the deepest hyper-saline lake in the world, and Landau has been creating sculptures of familiar objects—chairs, shoes, dresses, even a violin—that glisten anew with salt crystals once they emerge from the water.

“The sea gives my objects new life,” Landau told Quartz. “Once they are transformed they leave their role as useful or usable things in the humdrum sense.”

She and her team submerge the object, such as a ballerina tutu (she was a dancer as a youth), using wooden and metal frames. Then they use fishing lines or strong cords to anchor the object underwater (things want to float even more than usual because of the amount of salt in the water). Several times a week, Landau checks on the site, while her partner From sometimes goes underwater to photograph the evolving salt sculptures.

Landau has recently compiled 15 years of her work in the Dead Sea into a new book called Salt Years. The nearly 300-page book contains photos and essays that document everything from her salting process to final installations at galleries and museums.

Watch the video above to see how Landau creates her sculptures.