Inside the Art Studio of Chiharu Shiota

A photo of artist Chiharu Shiota working in her Berlin studio


Chiharu Shiota is a Japanese artist currently based in Berlin. The artist's current body of work comprises sculptural installations that combine complex, woven abstract forms with found and collected household objects such as keys, suitcases, bits of metal hardware. The artist's vast works seem to suggest threads of memory, or the invisible forces that bind time, place, and space.  


The artist’s choice of media comes into play in her warehouse space, with fine strands of thread hanging in tangles from the ceiling, and from the apparatus visible in the photo, as if the warehouse is inhabited by a giant spider. The space is vast, and seems like it would have to be largely empty to incorporate the artist’s huge visions. 


Given the massive scale of the artworks, it's fascinating to learn how the artist produces them -- twisting strands of thread together in numerous tiny meeting points, focusing in on the details to a microscopic degree before backing up and taking in the whole object. The process (and the look of the studio space) reminds me a bit of Frank Stella's New York warehouse, and other works that comprise vast collections of very small details. 


The structures that Shiota produces often have a ghostly effect, with the porous constructions of stiff thread suggesting solid form without quite embodying it fully. The artist is known for using boats as a motif, often weaving thread into boat-like shapes for installations, including one at the 2015 Venice Biennale.

[image source]

Written by: Dallas Jeffs
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