Chiharu Shiota: cobwebs and threads…

I came across the work of Japanese artist Chiharu Shiota at the Venice Biennale last year, for which she strung her trademark black cobwebs across several little rooms dotted around the city.

“I want to be something more than language. I want to bind the body with the universe. I’m looking for how to connect my body to the universe”: For Shiota her black threads represent clothing, a second skin, and with her vast webs she does physically connect the body to the world around it.

However on seeing work by Shiota, this isn’t the first thing that comes to mind – instead it’s claustrophobic, trapping and teasing: we know it’s only delicate string but the restrains appear strong like razor wire and the huge tangles of it are daunting.  The artist always places mysterious objects within her webs to make the work even more enticing; in Venice for the Memory of Books these were desks, volumes, literary paraphernalia, but for her recent show at the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery she instead presents us with oversized christening dresses draped from the ceiling.

Lost in Lace at the BMAG showcases the work of twenty UK and international artists and it’s free! It’s only on until the 19th February and I have to admit that even though the gallery’s right next to my uni, I didn’t go to see it until last Sunday (bad student!) but I think it was something to do with the name Lost in Lace… It wasn’t until I noticed Shiota’s work on the advertisement for the show that I pottered along to see it. The show was a pleasant surprise but Shiota’s work was certainly the highlight for me, after first discovering it in Venice I’d never thought I’d get the chance to see it in Birmingham of all places!

Shiota’s piece After The Dream which is now on show as part of Lost In Lace is equally as eerie as her work for the Biennale, but on a grander, larger scale. In a way I personally felt that this more recent work is a bit more one sided, a bit too simple as it doesn’t contain the same intricate assortment of objects that featured in Memory of Books. However in terms of visuals alone it’s certainly impressive and this time Shiota’s weaved her web so it looms over the viewer, we’re almost contained within her installation – reminds me very much of some of Anselm Kiefer’s works, a love of mine, I feel a Kiefer post coming along pronto!

Lost In Lace with Chiharu Shiota: Free at the BMAG, definitely worth a shot.

Sneaky installation pics…have a peek.


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