A surprising twist to Zen Garden

17 Nov 2016

There’s a dark canopy at the end of the exhibition hall. Tucked away under layers of black cloth, I wasn’t sure what am I suppose to see behind the peculiar yet mysterious setup. But of course, my curiousity got the best of me. 

I peeked behind the dark veil and found myself in an utterly different environment. It was dark and quiet, layers of black cloths muffled the voices outside. At this place, it was surprisingly peaceful. For a moment there, it was nothing else but tranquillity. 

Eyes were automatically directed to the light source in the middle. Light sources, I stand corrected. Out of my delight, it’s a reverse night sky with beautiful starlights aplenty. They were buried under 80kg  of salt that represents the infinite ocean – according to Ryunosuke Kikuchi, the artist behind this alternative representation of Zen Garden.

Challenging the conventional setup of Zen Garden, as mentioned by Woon Bing Chang, a collaborative artist partner in this product, which is usually bustling with life with botanical landscaping. This art installation felt vast and empty. Salt is usually used to depict the absence of water and in turn, the void of life. However, this young Japanese artist decided to draw its cultural belief in warding off the bad and keeping the pure in tact. 

Without me realising it, I actually sat at the corner of the art installation for a good 15 minutes. My mind was calm but I remained hopeful – much like a voyager sailing forth through the sea. Especially since salt was intentionally shaped to represent the ripples of the ocean. And the stars, that will always be there to provide guidance, when we needed it the most.

I found peace, in this little corner Ryunosuke Kikuchi and Woon Bing Chang called the Zen Garden. And this is, to date, my favourite art installation piece I have ever experienced.