Although salinity is rarely what defines Venice, its saline lagoons have brought Venice peace, prosperity, war, and destruction. Standing as a... Read More
Although salinity is rarely what defines Venice, its saline lagoons have brought Venice peace, prosperity, war, and destruction.
Standing as a sculpture, "Venice Salt" strips Venice of its water, its gondola rides and instead reveals the impact of its salt. Between 1870 and 2018, largely due to climate change, the sea level in Venice has consistently risen by about 2mm per year. The significance of the water levels can be seen on the deteriorating bases of Venetian buildings; salt deposits from the water now penetrate the brick foundation walls above its Istrian stone base, which had historically been its protective barrier. As the salt crystallizes, it corrodes the bricks and eventually turns them into powder. Per the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, extreme flooding that used to occur in Venice only once every century is now expected to recur every six years by 2050.
Sitting atop a dining table, "Venice Salt" brings home the bipolar nature of salt -- a household necessity as well as a city destroyer. Centered on the table are 12 consecutive boxes, each holding salt quantities at 2mm increasing increments to equate the annual rise in sea level in Venice. While the media often oversaturate the impact of climate change with remote statistics and quotes, "Venice Salt" aims to make the issue more tangible via the common household condiment.
Historically, salt has also etched many stories across the globe. From around 500 AD to 1700 AD, the salt monopoly elevated Venice to great wealth, while in April 1930 the Gandhi-led salt march resulted in India's independence. The lack of available salt to heal wounds during the War of 1812 war between Napoleon and Russia led to the death of Napoleon's troops during their retreat. While the fluidity of water shapes Venice's beauty, the salt within its water is what determines its existence and deterioration. The impact of salt continues, whether as medicine, a destroyer, a commodity, or as a symbol for movement; its next chapter in history maybe one of its most significant.