Missing Link, Bombay Beach Biennale

Missing Link is a tall, vertical aquarium tube installed on the beach in Bombay Beach at the shore of the Salton Sea in Southern California. It is filled with fresh, clean water distilled from the Salton Sea. Missing Link is a testimony to the drying lake. And a summoning of what is needed to revive it. The permanent installation invites the public to reflect on what we value and how easily it is lost.

We unveiled Missing Link during the Bombay Beach Biennale, which runs under the theme White Gold this year, referring to the substantial Lithium resources found under the Salton Sea, which spark investments, promises, and dreams in the region now often referred to as Lithium Valley. The White Gold label has been used for other substances, especially salt, for ages. Throughout history, salt has been widely used as currency; even the word “salary” stems from salt. Venice built its wealth and power by trading salt for spices, and sub-Saharan Moorish merchants exchanged one ounce of salt for one ounce of gold. 

As salt became abundant, the White Gold label shifted to other commodities, such as marble, cotton, and lately to lithium. It might soon move back to salt, though, as salt basins are now recognized as a potential energy source; they store a thousand times more solar and wind energy than carbon fossil fuels. Salt has also caused destruction and havoc throughout history, contributing to the downfall of civilizations such as the Khmer, Maya, Sumerians, the Indus Valley Civilization, and the Roman Empire. It is also wreaking havoc on the Salton Sea, and without clean water inflow and large-scale desalination, there is no hope of saving the lake ecosystem.

Collaborators: Tom Sephton 
Construction Adviser:
Steve Sharbach
Venue: Bombay Beach Biennale, USA
Date: permanent installation since March 21, 2024