There was a place filled with poetry in Paris at the beginning of 2017, right where one would be least expecting it. Le Bon Marché, the French capital’s oldest shopping centre, did in fact host a monumental and exceptional installation by Japanese artist Chiharu Shiota, the same artist who stole the scene at the Japan Pavilion during the Venice Biennale.
The iconic shopping hotspot was in fact chosen for the ‘Where are we going?’ installation, which involved a fleet of suspended floating boats and thousands of intertwined threads – the latter are one of Chiharu Shiota’s signature features and have appeared in other installations by the artist – white in colour to evoke the purity of a fresh start. The artwork featured 150 boats floating on top of the visitors’ heads, dragging the audience into a mesmerising imaginary underwater world filled with poetry.
I deeply admire Chiharu Shiota, an artist who catched my eye two years ago when she introduced the ‘The Key in The Hand’ project, which was representing Japan at the Venice Biennale. Thousands of keys collected all over the world, suspended in space and tied to an incredible amount of red threads stretching in every possible direction.
This talented artist often opts for simple everyday objects such as keys, clothes, suitcases that have been left behind, and brings them back to life through her installations, picking them up and putting them together to create pieces of art that ooze memories and nostalgia.
In an interview published on Flash Art, she explained: “I always have the feeling of missing out on something important in my life, of letting something slip away for good. Perhaps this is the reason why my autobiography is influencing my work and why I usually collect other people’s objects. This feeling never fades, I’m almost obsessed by it, it follows me in all my works. I collect memories and mementos, so when I receive letters, clothes, keys or suitcases, I can sense what the previous owners went through or are currently going through. These people are not physically here with me, but through their objects I can be close to them, it’s like building an absent existence”.
I really hope there will be plenty more objects to pick up and rediscover, so I will have more opportunities to admire the work of this incredible artist.