Between Salt & Water by Anubha Sood

Anubha Sood is a New York-based materials artist, graduated from MFA Textiles by Parsons School of Design. Between Salt & Water is a textile project of sculptural forms that began on a research trip to Galway, Ireland, and it is developed with fresh seaweed crystallized over time.

The Beginning

Anubha Sood: On a research trip to Galway, Ireland, I found huge masses of kelp and seaweed washed on the beach, that I could collect and study. I, then, immersed myself in identifying the various types of collected seaweed, kelp, and material properties. My study was entirely focused on making kelp into a functional material, assigning it a practical purpose for human use. This is the general sequence of design when working with material tied to a manufacturing process. I did successfully manage to arrive at a method of treatment that could soften any natural material and prevent it from drying. But for some reason, it was more important to intervene in this assembly line way of thought and let the material guide my making. To fearlessly let accidents and discoveries guide me and share new sets of information – that allowed me to know more about how the material wanted to be configured. The day I ended my pursuit for material functionality, I discovered kelp’s many other properties and one of them was salt crystallization (a reaction to air and its displacement from water) which had no practical purpose but was of much greater significance. The sight of an entire object transforming and responding to its surroundings limited my artistic intervention and allowed the material to come to life, all by itself.

Between Salt and Water Textiles

Anubha Sood: Between Salt and Water focuses on the study of seagrasses and ocean water collected from three oceans and studied through dyeing, weaving, and material softening processes.
The primary focus of this collection of experiments is to observe how the material configures itself so as to reveal new kinds of information – more concretely, the relationship between our production processes and the natural world. When imagining a habitable future, it is crucial to think about current systems of production, consumption, accessibility, inequality, and how they aggravate the larger climate crisis and devastate minorities. I am interested in the intersection of systems of discrimination and their entanglement with the climate crisis.

Inspiration and Concept

Anubha Sood: Ontology and our way of engaging with things have informed the way we interact with the material. By freeing material of its practical use I am giving it another purpose. I’m interested in a sustainable ecology of making that provokes a sentiment addressing our material consumption and waste production. For this project, I collaborate with the ocean and its forests. The textile I’ve created uses fresh seaweed woven into a sculptural form that crystallizes over time in response to its immediate environment. This process alters its structure and texture. These precarious constructions depend on the level of humidity in the air which is absorbed through the salt crystals on the surface of the textile. Humidity and water particles prevent the seaweed from drying and falling apart. Over time, the crystallized salt surface disperses in the air and what remains of the textile is the quality of the relationship shared between salt and water.

Main Challenges and Advantages

Anubha Sood: The acceptance of material impermanence is obviously the greatest challenge, to let go of all artistic control and really observe the textile decompose and recompose. The textiles I have created are caught somewhere between growth and decay. Where the growth of salt crystals changes their structure but also the salt disperses in air, leaving the surface of the textile and landing on other surfaces.
Working with natural material is more gentle for the maker and the environment. You are in the clear for not doing more environmental harm if the processes followed are genuinely cyclical in their making and in their return. Through interacting with the natural world, one also acquires a new set of understanding of ecological and social responsibility which manifests itself through making and collective care.

Interview with Anubha Sood | Photography Anubha Sood.