Chiharu Shiota (based in Berlin, born in Osaka, Japan) is best known for her immersive installations, such as The Key in the Hand, with which she represented Japan at the Venice Biennale in 2015. 

EVERYWHERE by Chiharu Shiota, Photo Mattias Givel

She takes personal experiences as her starting point — exploring the relationships between the body, memory, life and death — often using thread to ‘draw’ in three dimensions to weave intricate networks of yarn into and across spaces. Other times she expresses through drawings, sculptures, photography and video.

Me Somewhere Else, Photo Sunhi Mang

The titular installation Me Somewhere Else at the Blain Southern Gallery, London until January 19, continues Shiota’s exploration of a thread as a medium, but also uses the material in a markedly different way — using her fingers to knot red yarn into a vast net.  

Suspended from the gallery ceiling, the net is a billowing mass which rises from a pair of feet – cast from the artist’s own, that rest on the floor below. The solidity and permanence of the feet contrast with the usually ephemeral nature of Shiota’s installations. The colour of blood, the red yarn is laden with symbolism, alluding to our connectedness to each other, the interior of the body and the complex network of neural connections in the brain.

With this installation, Shiota is examining the idea that human consciousness could exist independently of the body, somewhere beyond – somewhere else: “I feel that my body is connected to the universe but is my consciousness as well? When my feet touch the earth, I feel connected to the world, to the universe that is spread like a net of human connections, but if I don’t feel my body anymore where do I go? Where do I go when my body is gone? When my feet do not touch the ground anymore.”

Infinity Lines// SCAD Museum of Art

In Shiota’s 2018 solo exhibition, she created a metal house with red wool at The Wanås Foundation Wanås Konst, Knislinge in Sweden. The threaded, house-shaped installation looks like a sculptural drawing that invokes feelings of displacement.
Meanwhile, Infinity Lines was an expansive site-specific installation for SCAD Museum of Art, Savannah, Georgia. The immersive artwork continued Shiota’s examination of the interconnectivity between possessions and the narratives they hold. It incorporated antique wooden chairs that showed evidence of their previous use. Red yarn connected one chair to another and also to the surfaces of the gallery itself, filling the space and tying individual stories and memories together, like neurons mapping memories in the brain. Just as memories and life experiences stay with each individual throughout their lives, the objects in the exhibition retained the personal histories of their owners and symbolically linked present and past. 

If you’d like to experience Shiota’s incredible installations for yourself, here’s some of her coming exhibitions in 2019:  

Carmen X Cage opens on January 15 at the Japanese German Centre, Berlin with music, sound, word and art installations featuring five-internationally known artists including Shiota.

100 Years of Revolution opens on February 1 and runs until March 2, 2019. It is a group show at Podewil, Berlin, Germany and Alexanderplatz, Berlin, Germany.