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Beating Salts
Salt Design Lab
June 07 -   November 19, 2016

Beating Salts - Salt Design Lab

Designer Erez Nevi Pana (1983) holds an MA from Design Academy Eindhoven in Holland, and lives and works in Israel and Eindhoven.

Through observation, sensitivity, and attentiveness to materials and environment, Nevi Pana conducts free and unconventional exploration without knowing where it will take him. On a hot summer day in 2013, Nevi Pana went hiking in the Judaean Desert. Against the backdrop of the Dead Sea's desert landscape, between the desert dunes, he saw a white mountain, as pure and sparkling as diamonds. A vast mountain of salt. This salt mountain is a by-product of the Dead Sea Works - a fraction of what is pumped out of the sea, while twenty million tons of salt sink into its southern basin every year.

Since antiquity, salt has been associated with myths, beliefs, and rituals that cross countries and cultures. Where salt was traded, it served as currency attended by status and power, but human attention turned primarily to its preservation qualities, which accorded it royal status and turned it into a valuable and highly desirable resource.

Beating Salts engages with salt (NaCl) as a raw material with its familiar qualities, such as disappearance and crystallization, and reveals a three-year exploration process presenting two stages that emerged from it: Recrystallizing the Desert and Lot's Wife. Presented at the center of the exhibition is the laboratory as a crossroads at which the two processes intersect. Observing the entire process raises questions about the material crumbling and disappearing in contrast with what exists, what is present. The eye can identify what is absent, and from it construct a new, separate reality. A kind of memory.

Recrystallizing the Desert
Out of a desire to repurpose the raw material, the designer embarks on an exploration in which he stretches the familiar boundaries of salt as a raw material, and redefines it. Salt crystals are scattered in specially created molds which, when heated to a very high temperature using solar energy or gas, results in recrystallization of the salt at high speed in contrast with the slow, natural geological process. Halting the heating process detaches the salt from the mold, and the raw material in its new form is ready for use. The obtained product has a white, pure, and prestigious appearance. "Poor man's marble" obtained in an inexpensive and rapid process.

Lot's Wife
The question regarding the durability of the white material (the new raw material) and the desire to keep the object over time were central to continuation of the exploration process. Using a method that is characteristic of his work, Erez Nevi Pana combines different materials, and in this instance he mixes salt crystals and clay. The new material is fired in a traditional technique using a salt-firing kiln. Nevi Pana's use of salt as a glaze for a vessel and as an overlay for an object makes maximal use of the material's preservation abilities. The resulting product is an extraordinary combination of the material's durability on the one hand, and the fragility and apparent impermanence of the initial raw material on the other.

"Depth must be hidden. Where? On the surface" (Hugo von Hofmannsthal)



Curator assistant: Neta Konforti


Erez Nevi Pana

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