Japanese-born, Berlin-based artist Chiharu Shiota brings her signature techniques in environmental installation to bear at Blain|Southern this fall for her first exhibition at the gallery’s London space. Compiling a selection of new works that include a new site-specific installation, along with sculpture and works on canvas, the artist’s show, Me Somewhere Else, underscores her practice in attempting to connect and reframe the operations of her own memory in exchange with the world around her.
“I feel that my body is connected to the universe but is my consciousness as well?” the artist asks in the exhibition press release. “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.”
Such is the prompt for the artist’s show, an attempt at understanding just where and how the human memory, and the body might be located, either in a state of internalized perception, or externalized forms. In the titular installation, Me Somewhere Else, Shiota creates a vast net of yarn, which is suspended from the gallery ceiling and connected to the floor by a cast of the artist’s feet. The blood red of the yarn is laden with symbolism, from the neural pathways in the human brain to the connections that bind us together.
Elsewhere, the presentation of objects like dresses and smaller yarn compositions present structures and elements that serve as containers for memory, and even as actual receptacles that hold and take the shape of the human user. These points are particularly striking in conversation with the artist’s use of such delicate material. These red threads of yarn, suspended in space and clumping into heaped masses of material, offer a comment on the fragility and temporality of time and memory, their thin structure drifting out into space, and only filling the gallery by dint of their consolidate bulk. While time and space have long been the subjects of the modern artist’s interests, few have approached the nature of life and time in this way, as the ever-growing collection of fragments assembled in Shiota’s work, always threatening to come apart at the pull of one errant thread.
The show closes January 19th.
— D. Creahan
Blain|Southern [Exhibition Site]