Dress Submerged in Dead Sea Transforms Into Glimmering Salt-Covered Masterpiece

Thursday, August 25, 2016 |

Israeli artist Sigalit Landau has a special reverence for the Dead Sea. From her childhood home on a hill in Jerusalem, she looked out on the northern banks of the briny waters, and her family visited its shores on weekends. Its influence now filters through her creative work as both milieu and material—as much literal as symbolic of the surreal and spiritual realms. "It is like meeting with a different time system, a different logic, another planet," she explains.

Her latest project, an eight-part photo series called Salt Bride, represents a uniquely captivating collaboration with the mysticism inherent in the cherished lake's chemistry. Landau submerged a black gown in its waters in 2014 and returned multiple times over the span of three months to capture its salinity-induced transformations, as glimmering crystals gradually conquered the dark fabric. To Landau, the dress soon appeared "like snow, like sugar, like death's embrace"—poetic language to describe an effect that manifests as delicately magical, despite its earthly genesis.

The concept was inspired by S. Ansky's 1916 play titled The Dybbuk, in which a young Hasidic woman becomes possessed by a deceased lover's spirit, though engaged to be married into a wealthy family. The story is rich with romance and sorcery, which Landau aimed to emulate. The original Salt Bride garment is a replica of the one worn in the dramatic production in the 1920s, while the salt serves to symbolize that supernatural force, bewitching the black fabric into the new appearance of a white wedding gown. The photographic process, too, stands as a metaphor: just as the garment had to be immersed to undergo its metamorphosis, each printed image was necessarily developed by liquid emulsion.

Until September 3, 2016, the photographs are on display at London's Marlborough Contemporary, but you can see a selection (and a glimpse of the dress' creation) below.

Image via Matanya Tausig

Image via Matanya Tausig

Sigalit Landau: Website
Marlborough Contemporary: Website | Facebook | Instagram


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