The Fussy Eye: Na x 100

Salty memories.

Until you actually see Jen Mills' room-filling installation, the promised "bowls of salt" in You Only Have What You Remember mentally register as vessels containing salt, something you'd find on the kitchen counter. When you get there, the 100-plus white containers, sitting on a neat grid of wooden posts, are revealed to be made of salt. Not ceramic. And they're all empty. This "topography of memory," as the Seattle artist describes it, sags in the middle like an old mattress—perhaps where a former lover once lay. But the salt itself, Na in the periodic table, is also instrumental in creating our memories. Meaning not just the tastes of things that recall the past, like Proust's madeleine, but in the chemical vat that is the human brain. Salt and other neurotransmitters help bridge our synapses to form the connections that solidify into memory. Salt is also a preservative, yet there's no escaping that our memories disappear with us. Remove the water from our bodies, and you're left with a dry pile of chemicals and minerals, salt among them. Which, in a millennium or two after we're forgotten, will also be recycled into new vessels and new forms. You can buy the whole array, like a very large serving set, for five grand. Or $30 a bowl. Just don't put them in your dishwasher, where they'll disappear. 

 
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