CHIHARU SHIOTA
WHO AM I TOMORROW?

© Portrait Sunhi Mang

KUNSTRAUM DORNBIRN, DORNBIRN, AUSTRIA
7 JULY – 12 NOVEMBER 2023

The installation with the evocative title “Who am I Tomorrow?” by Chiharu Shiota unfolds the fascinating impression of a living, oversized and independent organism. It seems to hover above the visitors, precisely fitted into the protective historical architecture, connected to it by an uncountable number of red connecting lines.

© Image Günter Richard Wett ©  the artist / Bildrecht Wien 2023

Shiota here turns the inside out. We all live, work, sleep, love, and suffer physically driven by a constantly functioning cardiovascular system. With a heartbeat of about 70 beats per minute, approximately 10,000 liters of blood are pumped into around 100,000 kilometers of blood vessels every day. Shiota isolates this blood circulation from the systemic whole, enlarges it, and inserts it site-specifically into the hall structure. The function of the heart is taken over by the pumps, which move apparent blood through the veins. For a short time, the blood is even completely removed from the circulation in the Erlenmeyer flask and kept in the vessel to be fed back into the flow through the next open vein with the help of the pump. This process is similar in medicine to the out-of-body circulation accomplished with the help of a heart-lung machine and used in open-heart surgery.

In the exhibition, the absence of the corresponding body reflects the exact opposite, namely the conscious presence of the body. For without the body, the circuit simply does not exist. It is interwoven into a sophisticated system in which a loss of function of one part affects all the others. This interior as the core of physical existence, as depicted here, finds its repeated representation in Shiota's entire œuvre. The direct connection of the inside with the outside corresponds to layering in the artistic work: the inner organism surrounded by the skin, protected by clothing, sheltered in the bed, the room, the flat/house, located in the city, the country, the continent, the world. Just that world in a universe where only on planet Earth we can coexist with all other living beings and are responsible for keeping this community in balance and securing our living space. In this universal context, blood stands not only allegorically but factually for the individuals' information about origin, nation, family, health, and illness. In the best case, blood is invisibly hidden, imperceptible, absent to the senses, and thus fascinating and frightening, or its visibility is associated with injury, loss, and other extreme situations and blows of fate.

© Image Günter Richard Wett © the artist / Bildrecht Wien 2023

The very title of the Dornbirn exhibition shows: it is about me, that is, about an individual, the smallest unit of a community: “Who am I Tomorrow?” No less than the question of identity is posed here in all its complexity, with all its possible dissonances – in biographical and biological experiences, in behaviour and habit, in social and cultural context, in the consciously addressable and unconsciously effective, in the zeitgeist and across generations. Reading the question, we automatically think about what could happen by tomorrow, proceeding from the current overall state, so that we are someone else, can never again be or want to be that someone of today. How much influence do we have on that? How much power does our environment have? And how much responsibility do we have for this environment in a constantly reciprocal relationship? "Tomorrow" is a concrete temporal specification, relatively little time passes until then.

© Image Günter Richard Wett © the artist / Bildrecht Wien 2023

In “Who am I Tomorrow?” Shiota asks these questions and many more in a catchy semantic setting. In its pure size and harmonious beauty, the installation is such an intense experience that we become aware of our own connectedness with this large world in a special way. The artistic language can be grasped intuitively, and it is impressive how globally understandable and valid it is. The amount of responsibility that falls to our lot in today's globalised world is constantly growing and its recognition is hindered by invisibility, which is due, among other reasons, to great distances and media mediation. But human beings are capable of compassion, and so of changing perspectives and raising their awareness. To this end, Shiota's installations create imaginary spaces of real stories. They provide us with identity-forming narratives whose feedback to the reality of life is palpable and full of hope.

FEATURED ARTIST

CHIHARU SHIOTA

Chiharu Shiota (b. 1972 in Osaka, Japan) is currently based in Berlin. Her university career spans several years: She studied at the Kyoto Seika University in Kyoto (Japan) from 1992 to 1996, was an exchange student at The Australian National University School of Art in Canberra (Australia) in 1993-93, and a student at Hochschule für Bildende Künste Braunschweig (Germany) from 1997 to 1999, and lastly at Universität der Künste Berlin (Germany) from 1999 to 2003.

Shiota’s inspiration often emerges from a personal experience or emotion which she expands into universal human concerns such as life, death, and relationships. She has redefi...
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