Seasoned artist's salty work bridges art-science divide
Sandra Selig will hypnotise viewers when she seasons the gallery floor to evoke the cosmos.
The Brisbane-based artist will push a salt-filled pendulum attached to the ceiling of the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia in Sydney, creating a mesmerising pattern of concentric and overlapping circles as the seasoning streams on to the metal floor.
The work, Returning Eye (No.4) 2023, will go on display at the MCA: Eight Artists exhibition, which features works connected by abstraction and repetition.
Selig says her installation evokes images from outdated science textbooks to bridge the gap between science and art.
"Scientific and artistic thinking used to be more connected than it is now," she told AAP.
"After the Industrial Revolution, everything became so separated, specific in its own field and compartmentalised.
"This work explores the mode of questioning that is shared between science and art."
As the pendulum swings back and forth above the gallery floor, it leaves lines of salt that grow brighter the more they overlap, creating a cosmic eye at the centre of the artwork.
"There's a connection between the pattern that's generated and the images you might have seen of solar systems or galaxies," Selig said.
"It's generated in a really small and simple way with the salt and a pendulum, but on a massive universal scale these patterns of movement still occur."
Every time the work goes on display, Selig takes on the role of a scientist, creating a new drawing by testing different variables, such as the height of the pendulum or the amount of strength she uses to push it.
For the past two decades, science and music have remained consistent themes of Selig's works.
MCA curator Manya Sellers says Selig's artworks dazzle because of the way she treats her materials.
"Sandra has a great respect for the materials she uses,'' she told AAP.
"From a simple piece of thread to some salt, she manages to transform them into these poetic, evocative artworks."
By using salt, Selig reminds viewers of both ephemerality and permanence.
While her work could be carried away by a gust of wind, the salt rust left on the steel floor reminds viewers of the shape the art once held.
"Salt is a very familiar thing,'' Selig said.
"It's something we consume and eat, but it has this interaction with the metal and environment around it.
"It can rust, it can evaporate, so it's an emphasis on the connection and interaction between things as well."
MCA Collection: Eight Artists opens on March 17 and features paintings, sculptures and installations that explore women's stories.