Japan­ese artist Chi­haru Shio­ta plucks the strands of our most dis­tant memories

Bianca Winataputri
Broadsheet, 11/10/16
Chi­haru Shiota’s Absent Bod­ies is like an enor­mous, red web left by what must be an enor­mous spi­der. The con­stel­la­tion of thread, like a mil­lion veins, envelops Anna Schwartz Gallery, wall to wall. Through the mess of tan­gled threads you can see, faint­ly, two chairs. No one sits there but it is still in exis­tence. It’s like we are look­ing at the past and our dis­tant mem­o­ries. We can see but we can nev­er touch,” Shio­ta tells Broad­sheet. When talk­ing about the past it is always con­nect­ed to oth­er peo­ple. I choose two chairs because humans can­not live alone.” The Japan­ese-born, Ger­many-based artist is fea­tured as part of the 2016 Mel­bourne Fes­ti­val fol­low­ing her break­through at the 56th Venice Biennale’s Japan­ese pavil­ion. Shio­ta is known for sus­pend­ing objects with a web of threads to phys­i­calis­es the absent, hol­low struc­ture of mem­o­ries. At the back of the gallery minia­ture books, writ­ten in Ger­man, float in indi­vid­ual, webbed cocoons. Shio­ta explains these small instal­la­tions are in con­ver­sa­tion with the larg­er instal­la­tion, say­ing, Sto­ries are what remain of mem­o­ries.” The two absent chairs have a sto­ry. We can imag­ine that some­one is sit­ting there, talk­ing to each oth­er. This is how I con­nect the chairs with these three instal­la­tions. Every­body makes sto­ries.” As well as Absent Bod­ies, Shio­ta is also debut­ing anoth­er tour­ing instal­la­tion in Mel­bourne, The Home With­in. Made also from red threads, her house” struc­ture was at Deakin Edge from Octo­ber 6 to 9. It’s cur­rent­ly spend­ing time at North Melbourne’s Meat Mar­ket and will move into the Mel­bourne Town Hall lat­er this month. Shio­ta says the instal­la­tion, explores the idea of home … want­i­ng to come back home. To leave and then come back. With­in and with­out.” Mem­o­ries is some­thing that exist in my mind, but I can nev­er touch. I can nev­er explain. That’s why I am inter­est­ed to work with mem­o­ries,” Shio­ta says, as she starts to weave a few dan­gling threads at the cor­ner of the web.
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