Chiharu Shiota

Objects are not just objects sometimes. The poetic of common challenges the audience. You can be surprised, you can get emotional, angry, astonished, just looking at a filled room, without knowing why. Often the meaning of it is a visual mystery. Beds, pillows, clothes, suitcases, threads, shoes, when they move in an environment, handled by an artist, they develop their own stories. Sometimes the artist is a part of this story, engaged in the installation. Sometimes the artist is just behind this story.

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Chiharu Shiota, Berlin-based artist and performer, exhibits worldwide her touching art. Born in Japan, she’s been trained during the late 90’s by Marina Abramovic in a German art school. The Orient, the German rigor and the guidance of one of the greatest contemporary artist have created an unique mix. Shiota’s art is humble, yet majestic.
She’s part of her art, but separated from it moving away from the structures she actualizes.

In your artistic production you’ve been moving from a focus on the body to a focus on the space and the ambient. What triggered this?
I think I am doing both, in the beginning of my artistic career and now. Both are important subjects of my work and I am still switching between the two of them, so I can’t make out a turning point.


You are a Japan born artist, living now in Europe (Berlin). Here in Europe we often take for granted that the Oriental culture is more spiritual than ours. As you’ve been experiencing both, what’s your opinion? Do you reckon your roots have been influencing what you do?

I don’t know whether Oriental culture is more spiritual, I think this depends more on the person. Living abroad helps me to see myself clearer and see my own identity, because I am different. In Japan, I don’t differ as much from other people and this makes it harder to see myself.
When you have a bowl of salt water and the water dries up, and the salt crystalizes. The crystals have always been there, but you couldn’t see them in the liquid. Living abroad helps me seeing the crystals.


From a spectator’s point of view, seems like it takes a lot of time to assemble an installation and fill a room. Did it become a ritual for you?

With every installation it is great to see it grow and being realized. I prefer not to build models and visualize an idea before the set up but to make it reality during the set up. This is the same for any installations, may it be with windows or beds or threads.
Setting up the thread installations takes up an especially large amount of time but it is like meditation. The weaving of the thread can also be seen as an indicator of the current mind set – when I’m troubled the thread tangles up more irregularly and I make more knots. When I’m in a balanced mood, the weavings are more regular.

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