There was a Hasidic wedding dress submerged in The Dead Sea for three months. As odd as this may sound, it resulted in an artistic merge between the modest style of an ancient religion and the lowest valley on earth. Sigalit Landau, an Israeli artist whose fixation with The Dead Sea has been persistent since 2005, conducted this underwater experiment in 2014 and presents the visual outcome in a new photographic series entitled “Salt Bride“. This series redefines the perspective of what is sometimes seen as a repressed religion’s aesthetic, advancing it to an empowering and hopeful expression.
The black dress used was inspired by the dress worn by the young bride possessed by an evil spirit in the film, The Dybbuk. In the film, the woman falls in love with a man deemed impossible to marry by the constraints of her religion. Driven by frustration, the man she fell in love with resorts to evil forces, which ultimately kill him. His spirit remains as does the woman’s arranged marriage. As a result of his jealousy and disdain, his spirit takes over the woman on her wedding day, turning her gown from white to black, and she ultimately dies as well. Landau extends this story by creating a setting for the last silhouette that the woman was seen in… her wedding gown.
As the black gown rested under the surface, the crystallized salt elements of the sea attached to the netlike weave used to stitched the dress transforming the color of the gown from black to white. This transformation bids a new ending to the film as the garment, formerly associated with death and madness, is refreshed by nature into the wedding dress it was always intended to be.
“Over the years, I learnt more and more about this low and strange place,” Landau said about The Dead Sea. “Still the magic is there waiting for us: new experiments, ideas and understandings.” The impressive and natural magic presented in this experiment discovers an art to the preservation and decay of fashion, character and curiosity. Landau baptized a little black dress enriched with a tragic inspiration into water whose elements provide therapeutic treatments.
Landau worked with Yotam From to document the dress’ renewal through eight large color prints. The underwater photography will be displayed at the Marlborough Contemporary in London from July 29, 2016 until September 3, 2016.