Shiota Chiharu confronts fundamental human concerns such as life, death, and relationships, asking: What does it mean to be alive? What are we searching for, and where are we headed? Shiota’s works include her signature large-scale ‘thread’ installations, which weave together the existence of uncertain and unseen memories that reside in objects and spaces, in addition to other mediums that include sculpture, photography, and video.
For her latest work, Shiota found her inspiration in Lake Towada. Lake Towada is said to have been formed from volcanic activity some 220,000 years ago while the city of Towada was founded after reclaiming land by digging irrigation channels that brought water from the lake. The red thread that envelopes the exhibition space is anchored to a boat floating in a space where time and memory continue to flow. The long, narrow wooden boat was found on the banks of Lake Towada. Shiota says that boats can lead us to places unknown, that they can also lead us from this world to the next. In this boat, signs of life and death coexist with one another, a major theme that runs through Shiota’s work.
The red thread that Shiota uses is a symbol of life. It also represents the thread that binds us to one another. The thread is woven in layers, making it impossible to see just one single strand. Like water or mist, the red threads of Memory of Water represent the elusive things that slip right through our fingers.
Photo: Oyamada Kuniya
Born in Osaka in 1972, Shiota Chiharu lives and works in Berlin. Confronting fundamental human concerns such as life, death and relationships, Shiota explores human existence throughout various dimensions by creating an existence in the absence either in her large-scale thread installations that include a variety of common objects and external memorabilia or through her drawings, sculptures, photography and videos. In 2008, she received the Art Encouragement Prize from the Japanese Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology. In 2015, Shiota was selected to represent Japan at the 56th Venice Biennale. In 2019, her most comprehensive solo exhibition “The Soul Trembles” was shown at the Mori Art Museum. Other solo exhibitions have been featured across the world including Art Gallery of South Australia (2018); Yorkshire Sculpture Park, UK (2018); the Museum of Art, Kochi (2013); the National Museum of Art, Osaka (2008) among others. Her work has also been included in numerous international group exhibitions.
Wooden boar, red wool