Chi­haru Shiota
Absent Bod­ies

7th October – 17th December 2016
Anna Schwartz Gallery

For her inau­gur­al exhi­bi­tion at Anna Schwartz Gallery, Chi­haru Shio­ta cre­at­ed Absent Bod­ies, 2016 an immer­sive new instal­la­tion that embraced the archi­tec­ture of the gallery. The hand-woven envi­ron­ment formed a micro­cosm where objects were sus­pend­ed in time and space. Viewed through labyrinthine lay­ers and planes of red thread, the pres­ence of two chairs evokes a con­ver­sa­tion, a rela­tion­ship, between two beings, per­haps in the past or the future.

At the oppo­site end of the gallery are three sculp­tur­al objects State of Being (Books), 2016. The con­trast­ing shift in scale, from the macro to the micro, offers a dif­fer­ent entry and bod­i­ly con­nec­tion to Shiota’s lyri­cal spaces. Chi­haru Shio­ta has often used domes­tic ele­ments in her instal­la­tions: beds, shoes, suit­cas­es, pianos, chairs, the traces of human life and parts of a decon­struct­ed idea of home. The books in the works State of Being (Books) evoke the quest for and the cir­cu­la­tion of knowledge.

In An inter­view with Chi­haru Shio­ta’, cura­tor Andrea Jahn not­ed: The artist con­structs psy­cho­log­i­cal spaces that con­front us with our own uncon­scious, which takes on a form in the instal­la­tions, like a dream that has become real­i­ty. The artist her­self remains invis­i­ble in this place – she has freed her­self of her role and leaves it at our dis­pos­al. Those who are famil­iar with her work under­stand her phys­i­cal absence in the con­text of her instal­la­tions as part of the con­cept. Shiota’s desire to ques­tion the iden­ti­ty of the artis­tic sub­ject as well as the sig­nif­i­cance of the autonomous art­work itself is tak­en to its log­i­cal con­clu­sion: if every rep­re­sen­ta­tion of the body depicts an emp­ty space that can­not be suf­fused with authen­tic­i­ty or iden­ti­ty, then the pres­ence of the per­former also can only func­tion as an image. The actu­al art­work comes into being, accord­ing to Shiota’s phi­los­o­phy, only when we give up our expec­ta­tions of things that can dis­pense with the assign­ment of mean­ings. In this way, the rela­tion­ship between the artis­tic sub­ject and the art­work, between the observ­er and the per­former, between inside and out­side remains in con­stant flux, and every ele­ment of the instal­la­tion – even the observers them­selves, acknowl­edg­ing their depen­dence, their entan­gle­ment in the space cre­at­ed by the artist – is an inte­gral part of the artis­tic expres­sion and its per­cep­tion as well.

In con­junc­tion with this exhi­bi­tion, Chi­haru Shio­ta was invit­ed by the Mel­bourne Fes­ti­val to cre­ate a mon­u­men­tal pub­lic work, The Home With­in, 2016, in which the artist reveals anoth­er embod­i­ment of the tran­sient home. Woven again in her sig­na­ture red thread, the 7 meter high ethe­re­al struc­ture trav­elled to sig­nif­i­cant loca­tions across Mel­bourne for the dura­tion of the fes­ti­val in late 2016.

Images

Chi­haru Shiota

Absent Bod­ies, 2016
Red yarn, wood­en chairs
154.54.5 m (dimen­sions variable)

Chi­haru Shiota

Skin, 2016
Red thread on canvas
Trip­tych: 14040 cm each; 1402240 cm overall

Chi­haru Shiota

State of Being (Book I), 2016
Met­al frame, vin­tage books, red thread
202020 cm

Chi­haru Shiota

State of Being (Book II), 2016
Met­al frame, vin­tage book, red thread
202020 cm

Chi­haru Shiota

State of Being (Book III), 2016
Met­al frame, vin­tage books, red thread
202020 cm