A Room of Memory

»I make art, not as a kind of therapy for internal anxiety since in my case fear
is necessary to actually make art.«

»I make art, not as a kind of therapy for internal anxiety since in my case fear is necessary to actually make art.«

Exhibition view a Room of Memory at 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa, Japan, 2009
© Image Sunhi Mang

Standing in an installation by Japanese artist Chiharu Shiota, Berliner of choice since 1999, is like poking your head under a curtain into a space of collective memories. You suddenly find yourself overwhelmed with a shower of objects. In one installation it’s house keys, in another it’s shoes, in a third suitcases; all of them items that once belonged to real people with their own stories and biographies – objets trouvés which Shiota has painstakingly brought together and piled up into mountains of memories.

Her installations always explore the web of relationships, the networks between humans and things, and the unending lines of connection, which are also manifested in her striking and well-known works of red or black threads that seem to traverse the space like painted lines.

"For A Room of Memory" (2009), Shiota spent several months in post-reunification Berlin collecting discarded windows from old buildings earmarked for demolition in former East Germany. Worn through years of use, the windows bear the indelible marks of past lives, having framed countless gazes over the years. Shiota used 1000 of them to build a tall, open-topped tower with transparent walls that envelop the observer in the internal space, merging inside and out, internal and external gazes, yesterday and today.



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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