In a hyper-connected world, artist Chiharu Shiota’s work questions the notion of the “web”, a living organism similar to the structures that make up the universe or the neurons our brains are built on. Creating immense interwoven masses of thread, the artist’s work twists and turns through three-dimensional space, creating immense installations and walls of color that present as dream-like, visual riddles. For the artist’s most recent show at Galerie Templon in New York, she continues this practice with a new installation.
Created on-site over two weeks, a large-scale installation made of red threads symbolizes this permanent connection of information, collective memory and the world’s knowledge which cuts across cultures and continents. At the heart of the work are two arms, her own, placed on the ground. They are cast in bronze, palms facing up to the sky. Reflecting on death and the afterlife, the artist reflects on the spirit as a pervasive, indestructible element. “I always thought that if death took my body, I wouldn’t exist anymore,” explains the artist. “I’m now convinced that my spirit will continue to exist because there is more to me than a body. My consciousness is connected to everything around me and my art unfolds by way of people’s memory.”
This notion carries through the show, the threads and lines that spread through the gallery and carry a range of papers and other elements, suspending them in a haze of material. The notion of recorded memory, of remembering and holding the memory in space and time is here understood as a quite literal arrangement in space, holding these signifiers of the past in mid-air, open to the viewer’s gaze, yet remaining relatively illegible. Similarly, this installation is followed by a series of sculptures. Enfolded at the centre of each one, as though frozen in place by the intertwined threads, are objects from daily life. Often obsolete, weighed down by impenetrable histories, these objects — old suitcases, stained dolls, miniature pieces of furniture and tiny bottles — represent the treasures offered up by memory, to be seen but not touched.
The show closes March 9th.
– D. Creahan
Signs of Life [Galerie Templon]