Chiharu Shiota’s "The Key in the Hand" is presented at the 56th International Art Exhibition – la Biennale di Venezia. Shiota explains her thoughts and theme of her installation that seeks to explore the notion of memory.
Berlin-resident artist Chiharu Shiota creates large-scale installations by stretching yarn across the exhibition space, and produces works out of materials that are filled with memories and traces of everyday life such as dresses, beds, shoes, and suitcases. She is notable for her skilled approach to the large installation format, which has become a special feature of the biennale in recent years. But Shiota’s choice of materials and the spatial structure of her installations maintains a sense of preeminent beauty without losing any freshness or power, quietly permeating our minds and bodies.
Shiota’s work, which transcends linguistic, cultural, and historical contexts as well as political and social circumstances, and deeply affects viewers from all over the world, has been presented and esteemed in approximately 200 exhibitions in Japan and other countries throughout the West, Middle East, Oceania, and Asia.
After being confronted with the deaths of several intimate friends and family in recent years, Shiota has converted these experiences into the lingua franca of pure and sublime art without averting her eyes from the reality that all human beings must face “life” and “death” but that each of us must do so individually.
At times, Shiota’s work conveys a sense of the “darkness” that is inevitably contained in the “unknown world” associated with death and uncertainty. Even today, four years after the Great East Japan Earthquake, it is conceivable that viewers from various countries visiting a large international exhibition like the Venice Biennale will be overwhelmed by the “dark” parts of her work due to its associations with a country that has suffered deep physical and spiritual wounds.
In Shiota’s work, however, there is a powerful “light” of hope and spiritual brightness that dwells deep within the darkness. This is a light that is inherent not only in the tremendous anxiety that plagues Japanese people but in the precarious state of things all over the world.
Chiharu Shiota (b 1972 in Osaka, Japan). Lives in Berlin. Confronting fundamental human concerns like life and death, Shiota explores questions such as “What does it mean to be alive?” and "What is existence?" in large- scale installations that make use of a variety of media including sculptural elements, photography, and video.
In 2007, she was awarded the Ministry of Education in the Art Encouragement Prize for her solo exhibition From in Silence, held at Kanagawa Prefectural Gallery. She has held solo shows at the Smithsonian Institution Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Washington, D.C. (2014), the Mattress Factory, Pittsburgh (2013), the Museum of Art, Kochi (2013), Marugame Genichiro-Inokuma Museum of Contemporary Art, Kagawa (2012), Casa Asia, Barcelona (2012), and the National Museum of Art, Osaka, Japan (2008) among others. She has also participated in countless international exhibitions such as the Kyiv International Biennale of Contemporary Art / Ukraine, Art Setouchi / Japan, Aichi Triennale / Japan, Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art / Russia, International Biennial of Contemporary Art of Seville / Spain, Gwangju Biennale / South Korea, and Yokohama Triennale / Japan.
Chiharu Shiota | filmed by Out of Sync | Venice May 2015
Interview | Jesper Bundgaard
Camera and edit | Per Henriksen
Producer | Out of Sync
Artworks courtesy | Chiharu Shiota
© Out of Sync 2015