Chiharu Shiota’s Web-Like String Installations Hold Tension Between Absence and Existence

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April 28, 2022

Grace Ebert

A deep sense of curiosity and a search for answers consumes Chiharu Shiota’s practice. The Osaka-born, Berlin-based artist is known for her massive installations that criss-cross and intertwine wires into mesh-like labyrinths. The site-specific works are simultaneously dense in construction and delicate and airy, relying on negative space and a recurring theme of “absence in existence,” Shiota tells Louisiana Channel in a new interview.

The short film describes the artist’s evolution and surveys her works over decades. She visits her Berlin studio, where a suspended boat hangs from the ceiling and Shiota shares some children’s paintings. She describes the latter medium as a limitation of her expression, which prompted her first interactions with rope and the concept of ‘drawing in the air’. The film then follows Shiota to Cisternerne in Copenhagen, where she weaves a web of white rope across the pillars, filling the eerie space for her continued Multiple Realities exhibition, which is on display until November 30.

Shiota works with what she calls ‘philosophies of the moment’, creating sprawling installations designed to elicit visceral responses from those in their presence. The colors are symbolic, with red conveying relationships between people, black the universe and white the beginning and purity. “Cords break, get tangled, or get tangled — just like people break relationships, get tied up, or get entangled. It’s about the same,” she says.

Traveling and ‘on the go’ is when she typically collects ideas for works, which are not sketched out until she fully realizes them in the intended space. When an exhibition closes, the strings are cut and thrown away, further embodying the conceptual aspects of her practice of meditating on life and death. “What world will be there after your body is gone? When I die and my thoughts and ideas are gone… I wonder what will become of me. I make my works in search of these answers.”

Shiota currently has pieces on display in cities around the world, including Paris, Essen, Germany, and Aomori, Japan, and you can check out the full list on her site.

#installation #sitespecific #string

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