Chiharu Shiota: Haus Am Lutzowplatz

By Fricke, Harald | Artforum International, April 2006 | Go to article overview

Chiharu Shiota: Haus Am Lutzowplatz


Fricke, Harald, Artforum International


Chiharu Shiota, born in Osaka in 1972, settled in Germany in 1996, initially to study with Marina Abramovic; she has lived in Berlin since 1997. Her path of development is paradigmatic for its time: Her studio rooms in Mitte were in a building formerly occupied by squatters; later she participated in exhibitions that focused on her Japanese heritage, underscoring Berlin's new multiculturalism and openness in its dealings with foreigners. Shiota soon found herself growing uneasy about this reference to alterity, though. "Often, when there's a show here, people who come to look think, 'Ah, a Japanese artist!' and that makes me ... smaller," Shiota remarked in an interview. "It's true that I have a Japanese name, I'm called Chiharu. They can see it next to the work. But that's just a detail. And then you're invited somewhere because you're from Japan," she concluded skeptically.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

The works that Shiota is showing at Haus am Lutzowplatz under the title "Raum" (Room) seem to struggle against such pigeonholing: They explore the intimacy of life beyond nationally determined cultural characteristics. The three installations, each quite extensive, have to do with dreams, memory, and death--experiences that can only be grasped personally and are, for this reason, more easily conveyed by atmospheric than by concrete material means. For During Sleep (all works 2005), Shiota created a room with wool threads--a material she often uses--making an impenetrable labyrinth in whose center a bed floats surreally, surrounded by a forest of cobwebs. With its fragile construction, the arrangement recalls the work of Eva Hesse; but it also has the character of a minimalistic stage, such as might appear in a work by Rebecca Horn. …

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