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Chiharu Shiota

Updated: Jan 19, 2019

Artist 6 Chiharu Shiota The Key in the Hand, 2015

Chiharu Shiota is a Japanese installation artist born in 1972 in Osaka. She has been living and working in Berlin since 1996.

The starting points for the majority of Shiota’s installations are collections of used possessions; belongings that are haunted with memories. They act as expressions of human acts in her work. The complex networks of yarn are often interlaced around and between objects, linking their inherent narratives and creating a new visual plane, as if painting in mid-air.

These performative installations she weaves can be human-size webs from different coloured threads, turning entire galleries into labyrinthine environments and often enclosing personal objects or even herself. Inspired by the installation and performance art of the 1970s, Shiota left Japan for Berlin to study under Marina Abramovic. Shiota’s work reveals in her use of materials and performative exploration of states of anxiety, memory, nostalgia, oblivion, colour, light, beauty, loss and remembering.

Her intricate threaded installations are embedded with a powerful, dark and dreamlike potency.

“Old objects have a history within them. what really attracts me to them is the fact that they have once belonged to a person who has their own story or attachment to that object. I can see the trace of a human life in that object, I can see the existence in the absence.” - Chiharu Shiota

To me her use of such delicate thread and how powerful her pieces are is incredible. In some of my research they call her works paintings in the sky and I love the idea of being able to walk through the painting. The example of her work I choose is the ‘The Key in Hand’ and she used 50 000 keys to create it. This level of detail draws the imagination in. Who owned those keys? What do they open? Her title suggests the power one holds. The opportunity to open something but also the lack of control because you want know which key you pick in this artwork. I feel it is reflective of how we try to control our lives but there will always be an unknown element and her way of capturing this is beautiful.


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