April 22, 2021

A Dress Was Put In The Dead Sea For Two Months And It Became A Sparkling Work Of Art

For her latest project, Israeli artist Sigalit Landau submerged a black gown in the Dead Sea on June 2016; having been retrieved from the salt-rich waters two months later on Augst 2016, you can see that the gown’s glittering transformation is stunning.

More info: Sigalit Landau | Marlborough Contemporary

Sigalit Landau in collaboration with Yotam From, Salt Crystal Bride Gown IV, 2014, Colour Print, 163 x 109 cm, Courtesy the artist and Marlborough Contemporary, London. Photo: Studio Sigalit Landau –  Sigalit Landau | Marlborough Contemporary

The project is an eight-part photo series called “Salt Bride” and was inspired by S. Ansky’s 1916 play titled “Dybbuk.” The play is about a young Hasidic woman who becomes possessed by the spirit of her dead lover, and Landau’s salt-encrusted gown is a replica of the one worn in the dramatic production of the 1920s.

Landau checked on the black gown various times during the months in order to capture the gradual process of salt crystallization. You can see them at London’s Marlborough Contemporary.

The project was inspired by the Yiddish play The Dybbuk, with the traditional Hasidic dress a replica of the one worn by the play’s lead female character, young bride Leah.

The play tells the story of Leah’s possession and exorcism.

Sigalit Landau in collaboration with Yotam From, Salt Crystal Bride Gown I, 2014, Colour Print, 163 x 109 cm, Courtesy the artist and Marlborough Contemporary, London. Photo: Studio Sigalit Landau – Sigalit Landau | Marlborough Contemporary

And so in Sigalit’s artistic interpretation of the story, her dress is transformed from a symbol associated with death and madness into a wedding dress, created in the dark underworld of the Dead Sea.

Sigalit Landau’s choice of the Dead Sea has personal significance.

Sigalit Landau in collaboration with Yotam From, Salt Crystal Bride Gown I, 2014, Colour Print, 163 x 109 cm, Courtesy the artist and Marlborough Contemporary, London. Photo: Studio Sigalit Landau –  Sigalit Landau | Marlborough Contemporary

The artist grew up on a hill overlooking the northern part of the sea, and she’s previously used the salt-filled water for her art, filming videos in the water and covering objects in salt crystals to create sculptures.

Sigalit describes the Dead Sea as having a kind of magic.

‘It looks like snow,’ she said in a press release for Salt Bride. ‘Like sugar, like death’s embrace; solid tears, like a white surrender to fire and water combined.’

Read more: https://metro.co.uk/2016/08/26/this-dress-spent-two-months-in-the-dead-sea-to-become-a-sparkling-work-of-art-6091628/?ito=cbshare

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Sigalit Landau in collaboration with Yotam From, Salt Crystal Bride Gown I, 2014, Colour Print, 163 x 109 cm, Courtesy the artist and Marlborough Contemporary, London. Photo: Studio Sigalit Landau –  Sigalit Landau | Marlborough Contemporary

The Dead Sea is one of the saltiest bodies of water on Earth. At 34 percent salnity, it is several times saltier than the open ocean. And the Dead Sea is getting even saltier: Every year it drops by about 5 feet (1.5 meters) as water in the lake evaporates. The water’s hypersalinity makes it denser than ordinary water, which is what allows people to float.

The hypersalinity is also what’s behind the alchemy that transforms the black dress into a shining white dress. Salt tends to crystallize out of very salty solutions, and it typically nucleates, or seeds, at places that have saltier concentrations than the surrounding water, according to a 2012 article in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters. The initial salt-crystal nucleus still contains a fair amount of water, but as more salt gets deposited and the crystal grows, that water diffuses out of the crystal matrix, according to that article.

As the dress initially caught bits of extra salt, that led to a locally higher concentration of salt, spurring the salt molecules to line up into crystals that eventually grew and transformed this deathly dress into a sparkly saline jewel.

Sigalit Landau in collaboration with Yotam From, Salt Crystal Bride Gown I, 2014, Colour Print, 163 x 109 cm, Courtesy the artist and Marlborough Contemporary, London. Photo: Studio Sigalit Landau  – Sigalit Landau | Marlborough Contemporary

The dress was stitched with a netlike weave “that the sea would respond to,” and held underwater in a structure that could support the gown as it accrued hundreds of pounds of extra weight. Landau’s partner, From, had to dive with about 150 pounds of weights strapped to his body to allow him to stabilize more than 15 feet underwater while he photographed and filmed the gown as it transformed. By the time the metamorphosis was complete, the dress itself was too heavy to lift out of the water, so fragments of it still remain there. A smaller version — a bridesmaid’s dress — was produced as a separate sculpture.

Sigalit Landau in collaboration with Yotam From, Salt Crystal Bride Gown I, 2014, Colour Print, 163 x 109 cm, Courtesy the artist and Marlborough Contemporary, London. Photo: Studio Sigalit Landau  – Sigalit Landau | Marlborough Contemporary

Landau’s previous Dead Sea works include a video of her floating naked within an unfurling spiral of 500 floating watermelons (“DeadSee,” 2005), and sculptures formed from a crystal-hardened flag, a noose and a violin. A film of salt-encrusted shoes melting through the ice of a frozen lake in Gdansk, Poland (“Salted Lake,” 2011), formed a centerpiece of her exhibition for Israel’s pavilion at the 2011 Venice Biennale. For the last five years, the studio has been working on a salt bridge that will float untethered within this symbolically resonant body of water that lies between Israel and Jordan. “It’s an island bridge,” explains Landau: “A bridge looking for a shore.”

Sigalit Landau in collaboration with Yotam From, Salt Bride, Exhibition view at Marlborough Contemporary, August 2016. Courtesy of Marlborough Contemporary.  –  Sigalit Landau | Marlborough Contemporary

As the dress sat in the sea, salt crystals formed on the fabric, turning the dress rock hard with a layer of sparkling salt.

The end result was incredible.

 Sigalit Landau | Marlborough Contemporary

 Sigalit Landau | Marlborough Contemporary