Thursday, March 31, 2016

Chiharu Shiota

"Chiharu Shiota is known for her performative installations in which she weaves human-size webs from black thread, turning entire galleries into labyrinthine environments and often enclosing personal objects or even herself. Inspired by the installation and performance art of the 1970s, Shiota left Japan for Berlin to study under Marina Abramovic, whose influence can be seen in Shiota’s endurance-based performances like Try and Go Home (1998), in which the artist smeared her body with earth, entered a hole, and fasted for four days. Shiota’s work is also influenced by and aligned with that of Rebecca HornAna MendietaLouise Bourgeois, and Eva Hesse, revealed in her use of materials and performative exploration of states of anxiety, oblivion, and remembering."

As mentioned in class this week, I took a class from visiting artist Chiharu Shiota when I studied sculpture at CCA back in 2011.

When you experience her work, you feel a sense of depth that reaches further than your imagination, inviting you to explore the depths of your own mind. I not only admire her as an artist, everything that she's accomplished, I admire her as a human being as well. She is very humble, very sincere, and very quiet. Yet she is strong- a strength that is felt, not shown.

Chiharu Shiota is an internationally renowned Japanese artist and has shown works in museums such as the Smithsonian in Washington DC, The MoMA PS1, National Museum of Modern Art in Tokyo and participated in the 56th Venice Biennale.

Although my classmates and I assisted with installing in a gallery in SF, the show isn't even in her CV on her website- as it must've been "too small" to include between her shows in Australia, France, Germany, China and Italy back in 2011. She had an opportunity to show at the Berkeley Art Museum while she was in town for the semester, but used the opportunity for us, her students, to pitch our installations instead- which, by no surprise, none of us received.

Here is a photo of her when she took us on a field trip to Fort Funston in San Francisco. We took a bus limo there, which was pretty cool. It was on the way back though that was interesting. She had us give her our phones and walk along the beach experiencing it without any distractions. We were also not to talk to anyone. We could sketch, but that was it. Thankfully, I had a camera so I could take pictures. For two hours, we were to get closer to knowing ourselves. 

We all went our separate ways. Even though it was about 40 degrees out, I soaked in everything around me. 

Fort Funston is absolutely magical. Between the cliffs and the ocean, you walk along the beach, feeling insurmountably small. There were hundreds of crabs, sand dollars and other random things. I still have an old Budweiser beer can that I found from the 70's. (not shown for some reason)

I simply lost rack of time. There was no one else in sight for stretches of miles. I felt like the world was at my finger tips; and it was mine. It also felt like it was starting to be around the time to get back, to I went up into the dunes to head back to the parking lot. 

I underestimated the labyrinth of the dunes. Sure, there were paths, but they have been completely changed from decades of strong winds.

At this point I was really worried- it was nice not to have anyone around me for a little bit, but now I just didn't know where ANYONE one was. Not even someone walking their dog to tell me what time it was. Even if we weren't supposed to talk. 

I had no idea what to do- if I should have walked back along the beach, or keep following footprints in the dunes. I realized how far away from the city I was with no phone and felt even more lost. At least the mission I was sent on was accomplished- I had to find my way when so many paths were directing me in different directions. 

I finally found some dog owners and eventually a friend of mine from my class. The bus had already left, but since I didn't have my phone, my friend stayed behind until I got back. A while later, Shiharu shows up in a taxi, we all jammed in the back seat together, and drove back to the city. 

I will never forget what she told me once during a one-on-one: I have a fire inside me, and that I need to keep it going.

She is hands down- the wisest person I have ever known. And I am so lucky to have had that experience.

Articles on her work:

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