Olivier Varenne, our head curator at Collectionair first discovered the work of Chiharu Shiota on a trip to Japan in 2007. He then included her in the 3rd Moscow Biennale which he co-curated in 2009 and On and On at Le Casa Encendida in Madrid in 2010 and then for a third time, in a solo exhibition at the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) and Detached in 2011.
Shiota’s installation The Key in the Hand in the Japanese Pavillon at the 56th Biennale of Venice this year has been much admired by audiences all around the world. The installation, intended as a network of memories, comprised of the entire ceiling complexly weaved with red thread and intersected with hanging keys. Below were wooden boats, moving through the scene and collecting memories as they passed. The keys themselves, collected from people all around the world, were the objects through which the audience gained access into every day moments, where all kinds of experiences, and even secrets, had been passed from person to person. The installation was haunting yet delicate and poetic; as we entered it we were faced with an inescapable mass of emotion, pouring down from the ceiling in raining red thread.
Shiota is quickly becoming well known for her ability to immerse her audience within frozen moments of time. For the artist, weaving the thread is a form of meditation and is symbolic of her own mind set. When troubled, the thread tangles more irregularly; it becomes hard to establish where memories begin and end, but when feeling balanced, the weavings become more regular and follow more distinct patterns. It is impossible not to feel the overwhelming presence of the artist within her work, and it is to the credit of Shiota’s sensibility that each and every viewer can experience this so personally.
Opened in December at Patricia Low Gallery in Gstaad is a new installation by Shiota entitled Rain of Memories, curated by our very own Olivier Varenne. Using the same keys from the installation Shiota has created another weaved web, presented along sculptures, paintings and works on paper.