This is one of the pieces I made for Salt-winning: Equal To or Greater Than, an art exhibit that served as a forerunner to projects like The Object Ethnography Project.
Salt-winning was a trash-based social art economy. Over one hundred miniature globes, including this one, were created from discarded glass, trash, and winter road salt. Each globe could be taken away by gallery visitors at any time as long as they left something behind of equal or greater value. Visitors were asked to fill out a survey after their exchanges that detailed what they took, what they left behind, and how they determined the equivalent value of the two objects. I used the surveys to find trends in how people adjudicated value. Salt-winning, as well as other projects I’ve done, have lead me to believe that people are inherently generous, creative, and daring in their relationships to objects and value. The Object Ethnography Project is the most recent project in a long line of economy experiments.
When I say that each globe could be taken away in Salt-winning, it didn’t include the two I glued down, including this one. I wanted to keep it. It was so pretty! But as a result it was never “valued” by an exchange, so now it is time to put it out to pasture and see what happens. My art is always supposed to be finished by other people, so this piece is technically unfinished until someone trades for it and establishes its value.
Materials: melted jam jars, road salt, faux fur from hat factory, resin.
— from Canada
I squint at the image on my screen. I pick up my glasses and put them on… a melting jelly-fish… a nuclear explosion frozen in time… clouds looming over some ocean catastrophe…
“Remainder of Salt-winning” baffles me and my immediate oceanic associations rise to the surface of my mind: What is the remainder of salt and why is it winning? Residue. I become convinced that the ocean must be the remainder of salt- but how can that be? I say it out loud to myself: the remainder of salt is the sea. The Remainder of Salt is the Sea? That can’t be right. It sounds right but it doesn’t make any sense. The remainder of salt is the sea- and the sea is winning. Storms and rising tides. Tsunamis.
Winds blowing over the formless waters before the creation of the earth… later, Lot’s wife looks over her shoulder and turns into a pillar of salt.
Yes. I say to myself- Salt is winning.
And then I click on the image and feel a little bit silly. Of course ‘salt-winning’ is the name of an interesting art exhibit. Of course this piece is what’s left- a small remainder. I smile when I read “it was so pretty!” in the artist’s description. It really is pretty- not nearly as terrifying as I made it out to be. Not necessarily a sign. Salt is winning? I shake my head… how is it that I just convinced myself that ‘salt is winning’. I take my glasses off again and sit back in my chair. I laugh softly.
I like that this was glued down. I like that it sits somewhere- unfinished- awaiting value. And I like that it conjured such strange ideas in me. I change my facebook status to ‘salt is winning’ to see what happens.
Why do I want this object? Because it’s beautiful. Also, I want to see what other people might name it (even if it will for ever be ‘remainder of salt-winning’ to me). I will share the names that people give it and ponder about the associations that it receives and take it down and hold it from time to time.