Pile of salt


A pile of salt. Or perhaps two piles of salt. Neither is quite correct. Perhaps it’s easier, for the moment, to leave the material details to one side; to focus on the concept. After all, we’re always being told that that’s what contemporary art is really all about. In any case, everyone knows that today we live in a dematerialised world. How else could we have survived the great pandemic?

In geometric terms, then, a pyramid 2 and a cone. But they are fused together, so as to be not quite either. Like conjoined twins, their apexes suggesting separate origins, while their bases describe a shared end. Although there is visibly enough of each shape to allow us to imagine two distinct wholes. But then we’ve already slipped from a world of truths to guesswork once again. Wasn’t mathematics invented to put a stop this kind of thing? 1

It’s a simple object but hard to pin down in words. Perhaps we need to describe it in time as well as space. The apex of each is the single point, a grain of salt, to which all other points in the structure can be connected via a straight line. Two apexes, describing single events, travelling in multiple directions, with an episode of disruption and interference, where you can’t be certain which grains are connected to which apex grain, at the fringe.

1 In common usage, salt is an uncountable noun. We only have a word for the mass, rather than the individual parts. Moreover, it is an uncountable noun that has no definitive or generally used partitive noun: a pinch, a lot, a spoon, a cup – take your pick, there is no definitive means of separating the part from the whole.

2 With, naturally (or is it?), the attendant associations to the most grandiose expressions of Ancient Egyptian funerary architecture. (Being strict about geometry, we can rule out their Mesoamerican equivalents on account of their flattened tops. On account of their having no point.)

Mark Rappolt

Mark Rappolt, ‘Caught Knapping’, in ‘Untertage’ ed by Cassandra Edlefsen Lasch, pp. 118-123 (p. 120), 2024