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“Strings break, get tangled or tied together just like people cut relationships.” Join Japanese installation artist Chiharu Shiota on her journey to find meaning in life and death through her art. “In the moment people enter my works, I want them to understand what it is to live and what it is to die.”
Chiharu Shiota, who’s been in Berlin for more than 25 years, grew up in Osaka, Japan. Observing her parents’ business, a factory that made wooden boxes, throughout her childhood, Shiota knew from a young age that she wanted something else in life: “I found this kind of life unsatisfying. I wanted to work with my mind and to be creative.” By the age of 12, she knew that she wanted to become a painter. She began studying at art schools in Japan, Australia, and Germany. But soon, she learned that painting wasn’t for her: ”Painting with oil paint and a brush on canvas felt very limited,” Shiota remembers: “The more I painted, the more I felt that I was copying other artists. I didn’t feel any connection at all. I suffered from making art just for the sake of art.”
Strings, which now have become a signature for the artist, were her escape from the canvas: “I started to make three-dimensional pictures with strings.” Feeling more connected to the string as a material than paint, Shiota started doing performance and installation art. “I create in space,” she says about her method and continues: “When you weave string, it’s a communication with the space. It’s like painting a picture in the air.” Often the strings are intertwined but also connected to human objects such as shoes, suitcases, and old photographs that she finds at flea markets and antique shops. Dresses also appear frequently in her work, latest at Cisternerne in Copenhagen: “My works’ theme is often about absence in existence,” Shiota explains. “I use dresses in my work because they are empty bodies,” she says and clarifies: “The theme of existence is very important to me. That’s why I often use dresses with no bodies in them.”
“What world will there be after your body has disappeared? When I die, and my thoughts and ideas are gone… I wonder what will become of me. I create my works searching for these answers.”
Chiharu Shiota (b. 1972) is a Japanese performance and instaxllation artist. Shiota was born in Osaka and studied at Kyoto Seika University from 1992 to 1996. She also studied at Canberra School of Art, Hochschule für Bildende Künste, Braunschweig, and Universität der Künste, Berlin. In Braunschweig, she was a student of performance artist Marina Abramovic. Shiota is known for her site-specific installations in which is weaves enormous webs from black, red, and white yarn. In 2015 she represented Japan in the 56th Venice Biennale with the piece “The Key in the Hand”. Chiharu Shiota has exhibited worldwide, including at Taipei Fine Art Museum, the Royal Museum of Fine Arts of Belgium, Mori Art Museum in Tokyo, the SCAD Museum of Art, Blain Southern Berlin, and the Yorkshire Sculpture Park.
Chiharu Shiota was interviewed by Roxanne Bagheshirin Lærkesen in her studio in Berlin, Germany, in March 2022 in connection to her exhibition “Multiple Realities” at Cisternerne in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Camera: Mark Nickels and Rasmus Quistgaard
Produced and edited by: Roxanne Bagheshirin Lærkesen
Copyright: Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2022
Louisiana Channel is supported by Den A.P. Møllerske Støttefond, Ny Carlsbergfondet, C.L. Davids Fond og Samling and Fritz Hansen.
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