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Chiharu Shiota: Breath of the Spirit
Written by Satoshi KOGANEZAWA   
Published: October 28 2008

The exhibition of "Over the Continent" (2008), shoes and wool Photo provided by The National Museum of Art, Osaka. copy right(c) 2008 Chiharu Shiota

    I was greatly disappointed that the exhibition of Chiharu Shiota, who was born in 1972 in Osaka, left me with almost no astonishment or confusion, even though it has been prepared long enough for 3 years*1.

    The venue, the National Museum of Art, Osaka, has a 3-floor basement: the second basement for its collection, the third basement for special exhibitions. This exhibition, "Chiharu Shiota: Breath of the Spirit", covers almost the entire second basement (At the same time, photographs by Miyako Ishiuchi and Ryuji Miyamoto are displayed on the same floor as "Collection 2").

    I found "Over the Continent" (2008) soon after taking the down escalator to the second basement, which spoiled me. This was created with over two thousand old shoes tied with red yarn, collected from all over Japan. A similar work with a different title, "Dialogue from DNA"(2004), was used for posters and the main visual for flyers, so this must be an image that is very familiar to the media. I never expected to see this while taking the escalator. This might act as an introduction to bring in viewers; however, it is difficult to think this was effective as a display, for the following reasons.

    The artwork was placed in bright space, lit by spotlights, unlike the image used for most of the PR media this time which was an image that seemed to be floating in the darkness. Since this is an installation, we should not forget that the impression depends on the place. However, I had no idea why this needed to be located in such a bright place. To highlight any trace or memory of each and every former owner attached to each pair of shoes? A miscellany would be a better format if she focused on words. Anyway, we get the opposite impression of the red string in the bright room, or in the dark room. The unique heaviness consistent in her artworks that I had expected was not there. (Or did they try to reduce such heaviness?) My suggestion for a better arrangement is to put four "Trauma/Diary" (2007) to keep the clothes and the children's shoes, books, in an iron framing with stretched strings over on it, and one "Diary I" (2007), as an introduction instead of "Over the Continent". Also remove "Collection 2" and display "Over the Continent" instead. If there is not enough space, why don't they move the photos and video into the last room (next to "Collection 2")? Such a composition would be possible because some of the walls in this museum are movable.

    In "During Sleeping" (2008), beds were aligned and black yarn was stretched around them. Yarns to fill out the empty space were neatly stretched, which decreased their strength. At her last solo-exhibition held from October 19 2007 to November 17 2007 at Kanagawa Prefectural Gallery, she showed a sense of rampageous erosion which I expected to find in this exhibition as well. As if to incorporate a chair for staff placed in the corner, with "From Silence" she knitted black yarn to cover a burned chair.

    I felt uncomfortable in the venue. That is because a negative intention simply to display the artworks seemed to pervade the exhibition. I did not feel any strong desire of an artist who was dying to express herself. Many of her outstanding works were displayed in a narrow space into which they only just fitted. I wondered how much effort they must have put into this exhibition.

    The impact of her last exhibition was quite strong and still remains with me, so the neatly displayed artworks in the White Cube called the National Museum of Art, Osaka, might have unsettled me. I cannot praise this exhibition because a few collections are displayed at the back of this exhibition as if to fill out the empty space (please tell me if I'm wrong), and this was placed in the second basement, not the third basement for special exhibition (where the travelling exhibition from the National Art Center, Tokyo, ”Modigliani et le Primitivisme" was held). (Translated by Chisato Kushida)

Related Exhibition

"Chiharu Shiota: Breath of the Spirit"
01/Jul/2008 - 15/Sep/2008
Venue: The National Museum of Art, Osaka

No.166 of "News from the National Museum of Art, Osaka" issued in June 2008 edited and published by the National Museum of Art, Osaka, Independent Administrative Instruction National Museum of Art, reported the comment from Chiharu Shiota that Akiko Kasuya, former chief fellow of the museum, offered her a solo-exhibition in 2005.
Last Updated on March 08 2018

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