• Erika Argiolas

Chiharu Shiota and Her Web of Memories

Chiharu Shiota born in Osaka, Japan (1972), lives and works in Berlin.

She creates large-scale thread installations, drawings, sculptures, photography and videos.

In her spectacular site-specific installations, she makes use of threads, which intertwined and stretched together in the space everyday life objects in disuse, to give life to a real narrative. She uses clothes, beds, shoes, pianos and suitcases: but the choice of these objects is anything but casual. In fact, they are linked to the memories of their owners, they have their own history and this is used in the installations of the artist who traps them with hes webs of threads in a suggestive and emotional narrative.

“I always have the feeling that I am losing something particular in my life, that something is eluding me forever, so maybe this is how my autobiography affects my work and this is why I usually collect other people's items. This feeling never fades, it haunts me, it follows me in all my works. I collect and collect memories and memories, so when I receive letters, clothes, keys or suitcases, I can sense the stories people have lived or those they are experiencing. People are not physically here with me, but having their objects I can bring them closer, as if I could build an absent existence. In fact, most of my work is based on the theme "existence of absence".

Various meanings are also hidden in the use of different colors of the threads used, the black ones representfor the artist a night sky, while the red ones tend to represent parts of the body.

Chiharu Shiota - In Silence, 2011

In the artwork In silence, the burning piano has no function, but its beauty remains intact. Behind the piano, however, there is a story: the artist in the past had come across a fire in some of his neighbors house. After the fire was extinguished, the neighbors put a burned piano outside and she came across this vision. The burned piano was even more beautiful and stronger than before - according to the artist - even if this had lost the ability to produce sounds. In the act of surrounding and trapping it with her black threads, the artist tries to recreate and make music with her hands.

Credit to: https://www.designboom.com

At the 56th Venice Biennale, the artist brought the Key in the Hand, made up of 50,000 keys collected around Hungary, Serbia and Romania, intertwined with each other through the use of a red thread in which were then intertwined and trapped large wooden boats. The installation invites us to reflect on the importance of memories and the keys become the bearers of a symbol, the one that opens and closes the doors of the intimacy of each individual and are full of memories accumulated over time.

Speaking of some of her recent works, 2020 has been coronated with wonderful works such as: The Language of God.

The work was born and inspired by the relationship between Japan and Christianity. The artist recalls the times when the spread of the Bible and the practice of Christianity were forbidden in Japan and the fact that this did not prevent believers in any way from verbally disseminating the contents. The Bible did not assume material importance at the time, but represented a meaning to be adapted to one's life as a sort of personal guide to follow. The intertwined pages and books in this installation expand into space, flow through the air like lost words that end up in the mind of every single person who observes them.

Credit to: https://www.artbooms.com

Another recent work is The web of time, an installation in which Chiharu Shiota creates the vision of a night sky studded with constellations of numbers. The numbers, intertwined and trapped in this fascinating night sky, represent significant dates in both collective and personal history.

Artist Chiharu Shiota says:

"The numbers comfort us. We share dates that are important to us and help us understand ourselves."

Chiharu Shiota through her works creates three-dimensional images and scenographies, in which the architectures and objects completely lose their functionality, in favor of sentimental and symbolic values. However, objects remain recognizable and we relate to them and recognize them as elements present in our daily lives. These objects are thus configured as traces and memories of a faded experience or that almost no longer exists.

Memory, oblivion and autobiography are intertwined in the works of Chiharu Shiota. Birth and death, belonging and identity are some of the recurring themes in her artistic poetics. In her work she seems to summarize two very important artistic threads from which she was greatly influenced: on the one hand, the Japanese tradition of calligraphy, on the other, the philosophy learned as a result of her experience as a pupil of Marina Abramovic, from whom she seems to have inherited an almost ascetic and meditative conception of art and the observation of space and the things that surround her.


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