Her large installations of webs of threads wrapped around objects took the art world by storm. The artist behind the iconic motif is Chiharu Shiota, a name that people quickly took note of. The Osaka-born, Berlin-based artist confronts fundamental human concerns such as life, death and relationships and explores human existence throughout various dimensions by creating existence in the absence.
This personal creative practice was honed by her colourful life experiences, studying oil painting during university in Japan and then moving to Australia where she began making performances and installations. She moved to Germany and subsequently studied with various performance art pioneers from Marina Abramovic to Rebecca Horn and has since stayed in Berlin. For almost three decades of her career, Shiota has exhibited her work at more than 300 solo shows, exhibitions, biennales and other events.
Now she’s bringing both new and old artworks to a new exhibition at Taipei Fine Arts Museum, which runs until August 28. Tatler Hong Kong speaks to Chiharu about the exhibition, her iconic threads and how her work has changed over the years.
Can you tell us more about your Shiota Chiharu: The Soul Trembles exhibition in Taipei?
This exhibition was first shown at the Mori Art Museum in Tokyo, Japan. Over 600,000 people visited the exhibition. It became a touring exhibition and since then, has been to South Korea and now Taipei. Mami Kataoka, the director of Mori Art Museum, curated the show and we wanted to show the past 25 years of my work as an artist in one exhibition.
When I was invited to create this show, I was very happy but while I was preparing for it, my doctor told me that my cancer returned so I had to do an operation and chemotherapy. During this time, I was thinking a lot about life and death, questions like “If my body would die, where is my soul going?”. Because of that, I put this kind of feeling in the title, The Soul Trembles.
The pieces displayed for this exhibition range from old ones to newer ones, why did you choose to combine the two?
The space was very big so it was good to show everything—my whole artistic life, from painting from when I was just five years old until now. I wanted to show all my work and this marks the first extensive collection of all my work. It was Mami Kataoka’s idea to show everything I created in one exhibition.
You also chose to combine various mediums from installations to videos and photographs. Can you tell us more?
The theme of my work is “existence in the absence” but I approach it with different mediums. I’m not only a photographer or installation artist. The theme is the same but I want to create this feeling in different ways.