Made of three tons of Vietnamese sea salt bound with water, Boat is inspired by the salt villages of northern Vietnam. Nguyen conceived of this work as “a sculpture in the shape of a simple boat made of solid salt. I like the idea of the boat because it has so many metaphors: an eye, a fish, a leaf, a piece of rice, a grave, a boat itself going to be dissolved in the sea. I didn’t think about cultural custom or censorship in this work but more about creating a minimal landscape in space.” The sculpture is intended to dematerialize while it is on view. As the water evaporates, the salt begins to crumble and dissolve, its disappearing form symbolizing the way that events in history may slip away from memory or exist only as fragmented forms in our minds. As Nguyen observes, “It’s very exciting to me that the salt is melting during the exhibition; this makes the work continuous and perhaps never truly finished. The landscape is slowly transforming all the time.”
Nguyen Phuong Linh: Boat is organized by the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University and curated by Michael Rush, Founding Director.