Chiharu Shiota is back at the Daniel Templon gallery, after creating quite a stir when the Paris-based gallery staged its first exhibition in Brussels. Aided by three assistants, the artist has been weaving her hallmark web for the past week. The spaces she creates look like slightly unsettling cocoons. We were able to admire her sumptuous red thread installation in the Japanese pavilion at the 2015 Venice Biennale, casting a vast and dense net containing hundreds of keys above two antique Venetian boats. This red rendering of memory spoke of the outside world.
Today, the Japanese artist living in Berlin is inviting us into her inner world. “I started to use the treads to trace lines, to draw. Then, as I added a third dimension, I was able to create a sense of depth. When you can’t follow a thread throughout the web, it means that the work is complete. For me, the red threads represent life around me. The black threads represent thoughts, feelings, the subconscious, everything that lives inside of me.”
Sleeping is like death is a network of black threads stretching from floor to ceiling, while retaining several curved corridors to allow visitors to make their way through to the three beds held captive in the dark tangle. “Beds are the places where almost everyone is born and dies,” the artist explains. “That’s why they are such enthralling objects. I always use objects that have already been used, as they are full of history. What’s more, every person who gets up leaves a different body print on the bed. It’s fascinating.” This evening, from 5.30 to 8.30 pm, three young women will sleep in these beds.
Chiharu Shiota was born in Osaka in 1972. After graduating from the painting department at Kyoto Seika University, she moved to Berlin in 1996 and studied with Marina Abramovic at the Braunschweig University of Art (HBK). The magnitude of Shiota’s performance works is easier to comprehend knowing that she rubbed shoulders with Abramovic!
“Sleep is a bit like death,” the artist continues. “You never know if you are going to wake up. When you’re lying in bed at night and the lights are off, in your mind you go over what you did during the day; you slowly slip into your dreams, and you are caught in a web of thoughts, which I represent by all these threads; we get close to our subconscious, maybe like we would when death is near. This period of uncertainty, this is what I seek to share through Sleeping is like death. In Japan, houses are very small, and families sleep together. Here, I recreate personal spaces to sleep in. And the three beds are interconnected by the threads.”
Tonight’s sleepers embody both the viewer and the artist. Sleeping and dreaming in our sleep are also the foundations of our sense of reality. The experiment which the artist invites us to witness should allow us to feel that deep yet gentle wavering at the limit of our subconscious, guided by the sleeper whom we can approach, since we are fully awake after all. A journey. Several small sculptures, as well as two-dimensional thread networks, stitched on canvas, are also exhibited.
Sleeping is like death
Galerie Daniel Templon
13 A rue Veydt
Until 20 February
Tuesdays – Saturdays, from 11:00 to 18:00