The seasoned artist’s salty work bridges the gap between science and art

Sandra Selig will hypnotize viewers when she seasons the fair floor to conjure up the cosmos.

The Brisbane-based artist will push a salt-filled pendulum attached to the ceiling of Sydney’s Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, creating a mesmerizing pattern of concentric circles intertwined as spices flow on the metal floor.

The work, Reading Eye (No. 4) 2023, will be shown at MCA Gallery: Eight Artists, which showcases work associated with abstraction and repetition.

Selig says her installation evokes images from old science books to bridge the gap between science and art.

“Scientific and artistic thinking used to be much more interconnected than it is now,” she told the AAP.

“After the Industrial Revolution, everything has become very discrete, defined in its field and fragmented.

“This work explores the method of questioning common to science and art.”

As the pendulum swings back and forth over the gallery floor, it leaves streaks of salt that brighten as they overlap, creating a cosmic eye at the center of the artwork.

“There is a connection between the pattern created and the images you may have seen of solar systems or galaxies,” Selig said.

“They were created in a really small, simple way with a salt and a pendulum, but on a massive global scale, these patterns of motion still happen.”

Each time a work is shown, 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 force you use to push it.

Over the past two decades, science and music have remained consistent themes in Selig’s work.

MCA Gallery Curator Manya Sellers says Selig’s artwork is impressive because of the way she handles her material.

“Sandra has a lot of respect for the materials she uses,” she told the AAP.

“From a simple piece of string to some salt, I have been able to turn them into poetic and evocative works of art.”

Using salt, Selig reminds viewers of transience and survival.

While a gust of wind can blow away her work, the rust of salt left behind on the steel floor reminds viewers of the form the art once held.

“Salt is a very familiar thing,” Selig said.

“It’s something that we consume and eat, but it interacts with the metal and the environment around it.

“It can rust, it can evaporate, so it’s an affirmation of the relationship and interaction between things as well.”

MCA Collection: Eight Artists opens March 17 and features paintings, sculptures, and installations that explore women’s stories.

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