One of Chiharu Shiota’s best works – Room of Memory
Chiharu Shiota - A Room of Memory, 2009, old wooden windows, group exhibition Hundred Stories about Love, 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa, Japan feat
Chiharu Shiota - A Room of Memory, 2009, old wooden windows, group exhibition Hundred Stories about Love, 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa, Japan

Chiharu Shiota – A Room of Memorya, 2009, old wooden windows, group exhibition Hundred Stories about Love, 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa, Japan

Published: November 14, 2019

Introduction

From using thousands of keys to web threads to suspending a bunch of suitcases, Chiharu Shiota’s works always inspire. Among her best artworks is A Room of Memory, which is famous for its Berlin Wall aesthetics.

A Room of Memory

All her artworks focus on expressing memories and experiences from past events. And A Room of Memory is no different. It’s one of the fewest works where she doesn’t use yarn but relies on demolition remains to create a spectacle. The art piece comprises multiple frames rescued from the fallen Berlin wall in 1989.

Despite material variations, the artwork rivals her other works in quality, and it immerses the viewer in a secure cocoon-like environment. The security feeling reflects Shiota’s works, which attempt to use space to invoke varying feelings.

Chiharu Shiota - A Room of Memory, 2009, old wooden windows, group exhibition Hundred Stories about Love, 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa, Japan

Chiharu Shiota – A Room of Memorya, 2009, old wooden windows, group exhibition Hundred Stories about Love, 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa, Japan

How does the work make you feel?

A Room of Memory stands to show the timeless transfer of history, memories, and the perspectives denoting fall of the Berlin Wall.

Designed and launched at 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art in Kanazawa, Japan, in 2009, the artwork features a round structure that narrows towards the top, and it also contains an empty chair.

Visitors entering the A Room of Memory attest to its effectiveness in arousing memories. The work gives the public the ability to explore and feel the lives of the people in the Berlin Wall era. Every piece and space reflects the walls’ remnants and showcases the sufferings experienced.

Chiharu Shiota - A Room of Memory, 2009, old wooden windows, group exhibition Hundred Stories about Love, 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa, Japan

Chiharu Shiota – A Room of Memorya, 2009, old wooden windows, group exhibition Hundred Stories about Love, 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa, Japan

Chiharu Shiota - A Room of Memory, 2009, old wooden windows, group exhibition Hundred Stories about Love, 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa, Japan

Chiharu Shiota – A Room of Memorya, 2009, old wooden windows, group exhibition Hundred Stories about Love, 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa, Japan

Chiharu Shiota - A Room of Memory, 2009, old wooden windows, group exhibition Hundred Stories about Love, 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa, Japan

Chiharu Shiota – A Room of Memorya, 2009, old wooden windows, group exhibition Hundred Stories about Love, 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa, Japan

Analysis

A Room of Memory features windows from the old Berlin houses, which have a special significance. The objects, not used for their functional purpose, prompt people to reflect on ancient Greek traditions of preserving usable artifacts in sanctuaries.

Each object in the installation, therefore, became venerated relics with packed with sacred and unique meanings. And like many of Shiota’s works, A Room of Memory has a magnificent towering structure similar to a chapel. They are what you can misconstrue as places for worship, contemplation, and contemplation.

Chiharu Shiota - A Room of Memory, 2016, old wooden windows, group exhibition Collection 2 – Diary, 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa, Japan

Chiharu Shiota – A Room of Memory, 2016, old wooden windows, group exhibition Collection 2 – Diary, 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa, Japan

Chiharu Shiota - A Room of Memory, 2016, old wooden windows, group exhibition Collection 2 – Diary, 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa, Japan

Chiharu Shiota – A Room of Memory, 2016, old wooden windows, group exhibition Collection 2 – Diary, 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa, Japan

Chiharu Shiota – A Room of Memory, 2016, old wooden windows, group exhibition Collection 2 – Diary, 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa, Japan

Inspiration

Shiota draws inspiration from her experiences and learned from the art maven Marina Abramović. It is no surprise; she takes on Marina norms of inculcating actual experiences in artworks.

Other works by Shiota

To bring out histories and build connections, Shiota targets items that human beings use daily. Besides yarn, she has used keys, dresses, suitcases, beds, chairs, and books collected from around the world.

She collected over 50,000 keys to form a weblike structure named The key in the hand. The key in the hand combines a boat and threads which hang the keys to produce stunning quality. Shiota says the keys reflect man’s power to unlock any door in life.

Chiharu Shiota - The key in the hand, 2015, old keys, Venician boats, red wool, Japan Pavilion, 56th Venice Biennale, Venice, Italy

Chiharu Shiota – The key in the hand, 2015, old keys, Venician boats, red wool, Japan Pavilion, 56th Venice Biennale, Venice, Italy

Chiharu Shiota - The key in the hand, 2015, old keys, Venician boats, red wool, Japan Pavilion, 56th Venice Biennale, Venice, Italy

Chiharu Shiota – The key in the hand, 2015, old keys, Venician boats, red wool, Japan Pavilion, 56th Venice Biennale, Venice, Italy

Chiharu Shiota - The key in the hand, 2015, old keys, Venician boats, red wool, Japan Pavilion, 56th Venice Biennale, Venice, Italy

Chiharu Shiota – The key in the hand, 2015, old keys, Venician boats, red wool, Japan Pavilion, 56th Venice Biennale, Venice, Italy

Chiharu Shiota - The key in the hand, 2015, old keys, Venician boats, red wool, Japan Pavilion, 56th Venice Biennale, Venice, Italy

Chiharu Shiota – The key in the hand, 2015, old keys, Venician boats, red wool, Japan Pavilion, 56th Venice Biennale, Venice, Italy

However, her earliest work, Try and Go Home (1998), still ranks at the top of immersive productions. It features a mud smeared naked artist in a ditch who had stayed naked for over four days.

All images: Sunhi Mang for Chiharu Shiota unless otherwise noted.

 

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