Chiharu Shiota

Article Bio Works Projects
anxiety, body, transformation
Performing Arts (performance)
Visual Arts (installation art)
Asia, Eastern, Europe, Western
Japan, Germany
Berlin, Osaka
created on:
May 8, 2003
last changed on:
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The earth spins even in our sleep

Chiharu Shiota, born in Osaka in 1972, has been living since 1999 in Berlin. In performances and installations she is preoccupied with remembrance and oblivion. Earth and water recall the lasting and the fleeting. There is a concern with drifting between the cultures of Asia and Europe as also with a farewell to childhood.
The young Japanese artist Chiharu Shiota deals generously with her dreams. Her installations and performances lead into sleep, night and the self-forgetfulness of the dreaming body. Far from Japan, her loss of orientation and her fear of losing the personal and individual have become the leitmotifs of her art. From them arise theatrical images inviting viewers´ participation.

In 1999 she created the installation "Dreaming Time": From the framework of a house, whose roof and walls were made partly of crossed chopsticks, a bid to escape was made by an army of shoes, all of which were tied with red threads to the middle of the house and hence kept within a certain radius, yet not a single shoe pointed inwards. The worst of it was that every shoe had lost its partner and had to make its way in the world alone.

From Japan Chiharu Shiota brought a chest of old toys and buried it. Later she unearthed the dolls and cuddly animals and tied them with cords to the floor and walls. The work was called "Bondage". Such acts recall rites of exorcism to counter loss of protection within the family.

"Maybe I am unable without fretting to create more art, and if I am unable to create more art, I become more fretful," so she once wrote. But just as a story-teller keeps the spooks of the night at a distance, she bans fear from her works. In her installations she has wound herself in black woollen threads like in a cocoon. In her exhibitions she has slept between a bed and the surrounding walls among these threads forming an impenetrable thicket. The spatial complex of black lines was both threatening and comforting and offered protection and stability. But the lines also created labyrinthine structures, calling at every point for new decisions. Anxiety at the end of childhood was just as much woven into them as were metaphors for a technology giving contemporary life its contours. Electronic webs, neural channels, personal relationships: From all sides folk nowadays are called upon to be flexible.

A photo shows the cut threads of an early installation. Nothing more remains when the spooks have been taken down. Chiharu Shiota makes neither drawings nor notes in advance, for fear of losing her inner images. In Berlin, where she has been living since 1999, she has no atelier and works only on location. A strange thrift, which accepts only the fleeting.

Biographical and cultural transformations come into contact in her works. "Memories can´t be rinsed away", she claims. She translates resistance to the flow of time into poetical and memorable images. In the installation "Under the Skin" eight items of clothing hang above a washing basin and reach nearly to the ceiling. They hold each others´ arms like eight sisters from a fairytale with an adventure to undergo. Soil clings to, and water drips from the items. They have already come a long way, and smears and smudges bear witness to their experiences.

Chiharu Shiota was born in Osaka in 1972 and began her studies in Kyoto. She began with painting, but at present paints only ´"in the air" with her threads. An exchange-semester took her to Canberra in Australia, then she came in 1996 to Germany. Here she studied under the performance-artists Marina Abramovic and Rebecca Horn, who encouraged her in her way of working with perceptions of the body and its experiences in space.

In Germany she gained recognition already as an art-student through taking part in group and solo exhibitions, leading her within two years from the fringe to the centre. Exhibitions in the Ludwig-Forum in Aachen, the House of World Cultures in Berlin and the Queensland Art Museum in New York, as also her taking part in the Triennial of Modern Art in Yokohama, have put her on the best path to international recognition.

"What´s under my feet, what I eat, whom I meet - all that influences my art", says Chiharu Shiota, who after four and a half years in Germany is gradually feeling surer of "putting out roots and leaves" in Berlin. But despite the meteoric rise of her career, she has the feeling that her surroundings are changing even faster. The resulting discrepancies provide her with even more material for her evolution.
Author: Katrin Bettina Müller


1972 born in Osaka, Japan
1992 - 1996 Art School, BA, Kyoto Seika University
1993 semester-exchange to Canberra School of Art, Australian National University
1996 Hochschule der Bildenden Künste (Conservatory of Visual Arts), Hamburg / Marina Abramovic
1997 - 1999 Hochschule der Bildenden Künste, Braunschweig / Marina Abramovic
1999 Hochschule der Bildenden Künste, Berlin / Rebecca Horn


Solo Exhibitions (Choice)

Exhibition / Installation
2005 "Zerbrochene Erinnerung“, Kenji Taki Gallery, Tokyo, Japan "When Mind Become Form“, Gallery Fleur, Kyoto Seika University, Kyoto, Japan "During Sleep (2005)“, Museum Moderner Kunst, Kärnten, Austria "RAUM / room“, Haus am Lützowplatz, Berlin, Germany 2004 "Du côté de chez“, Sainte Marie Madeleine, Lille, France "Dialogue from DANN“, Manggha, Centre of Japanese Art and Technology, Krakow, Poland "In Silence“, Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art, Hiroshima, Japan "Solo Show“, Kenji Taki Gallery, Tokyo, Japan 2003 "The Way Into Silence“, Württembergischer Kunstverein, Stuttgart, Germany "Bleibend von der Stimme ...“, Kenji Taki Gallery, Tokyo, Japan   "In Silence (2003)“, Kenji Taki Gallery, Nagoya, Japan "Dialogue from DANN“, Centre for Contemporary Art Ujazdowski Castle, Warsaw, Poland   2002 "Uncertain Daily Life“, Kenji Taki Gallery, Tokyo, Japan "In Silence (2002)“, Akademie Schloss Solitude, Stuttgart, Germany   2001               "Chiharu Shiota Exhibition“, Kenji Taki Gallery, Nagoya, Japan  "Under the Skin“, Prüss & Ochs Gallery, Berlin, Germany   2000 "Breathing from Earth“, Kunstraum Maximillianstrasse, Munich, Germany "Bathroom & Bondage“, Projectroom ARCO, Madrid, Spain   1999 "Dialogue from DANN“, Prüss & Ochs Gallery, Berlin, Germany "Where are you from?“, K&S Galerie, Berlin, Germany   1998 "From Memory to Memory”, Kunsthaus Tacheles, Berlin, Germany   1997 "Gods Play”, Galerie C. Delank, Bremen, Germany   1996 "Similary“, Akiyama Gallery, Tokyo, Japan "Direction of Consciousness“, HfbK, Hamburg, Germany "Return to Consciousness“, Galerie im Vorwerkstift, Hamburg, Germany   1995 "My Existence as a Physical Extension“, Hounenin Temple, Kyoto, Japan   1994 "Becoming Painting“, A.N.U. Canberra School of Art, Canberra, Australia "Accumulation“, Hoya Galery, Canberra, Australia   1992 "Five Paintings”, Shunjukan Gallery, Kyoto Seika University, Kyoto, Japan "Native-600Masks”, Gallery Preview, Kyoto, Japan

Group Exhibitions (Choice)

Exhibition / Installation
2005 "Dreaming Now”, The Rose Art Museum, Waltham, USA "Parallel Realities: Asian Art Now”, 3rd Fukuoka Asian Art Triennale 2005, Fukuoka, Japan "Fairy Tales Forever”, ARoS Aarhus Kunstmuseum, Aarhus, Denmark    2004 "Oogstrelend Schoon - Shining Beauty”, Apeldoorns Museum, Apeldoorn, Netherlands "Embroidered Action”, Herzliya Museum of Art, Herzliya, Israel "The Joy of my Dreams”, 1. International Biennial of Contemporary Art of Seville, Sevilla, Spain "Senatsstipendiaten”, Kunstbank, Berlin, Germany   2003 "Rest in Space”, Künstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin, Germany    "Solitude, Theatre”, Akademie Schloss Solitude, Stuttgart, Germany "Paysages féminins et grondements du monde”, Institut franco-japonais de Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan "Eine Bilanz”, Kulturverein Zehntscheuer e.V., Rottenburg am Neckar, Germany "Walking on Art”, Kunstverein, Ludwigsburg, Germany "All Alone”, Centre for Contemporary Art Ujazdowski Castle, Warsaw, Poland 2002           "Some Kind of Dream”, Contemporary Art Museum of North Carolina, Raleigh, USA "The First Move”, Tokyo Kokusai Forum, Tokyo, Japan "Another World-Twelve Bedroom Stories”, Kunstmuseum Luzern, Luzern, Schwitzerland "Miss You”, Museum für Neue Kunst, Freiburg, Germany "Translated Acts”, Museo de arte alvary carment, Carrillogil, Mexico "A Need For Realism”, Centre for Contemporary Art, Warsaw, Poland "Rest in Space”, Kunstnernes Hus, Oslo, Norway   2001 "Heimat Kunst”, Kulturverein Zehntscheuer, Rottenburg, Germany "Exit 2001”, Maison Arts Créteil, Paris, France "Translated Acts”, House of World Cultures, Berlin, Germany "VIA”, Theatre du Maubeuge, Maubeuge, France "MEGA-WAVE”, Yokohama Triennial 2001, Yokohama, Japan "Translated Acts”, Queens Museum of Art, New York, USA "Marking The Territory”, Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, Ireland   2000 "Heimat Kunst”, House of World Cultures, Berlin, Germany "Continental Shift”, Ludwig Forum, Aachen, Germany "Strange Home”, Historische Museum, Kestner Museum, Hanover, Germany "Yume no Ato”, Haus am Waldsee, Berlin, Germany "Yume no Ato”, Staatliche Kunsthalle, Baden-Baden, Germany "Dorothea von Stetten-Kunstpreis”, Kunstmuseum, Bonn, Germany   1999 "..und ab die Post!“, Postfuhramt, Berlin, Germany "Unfinished Business“, Marina Abramovic & Students, Haus am Lützowplatz, Berlin, Germany "Fresh Air“, E-Werk, Weimar, Germany   1998 "Finally“, Kunstverein Hannover, Hanover, Germany "Untersicht“, Kulturamt Mitte, Galerie Weisser Elephant, Berlin, Germany "Notes Across Asia“, Konzerthaus Berlin, Schauspielhaus, Berlin, Germany   1997 "Objekte und Stelen im Dorfpark“, Dorfpark, Buchholz, Germany   1996 "Textil Exhibitions“, Meguro museum of Art, Tokyo, Japan   1995 "White Asia“, Kyoto City Conference Center, Kyoto, Japan


This artist took part in the following project(s) organized/funded by the partner institutions.

Translated Acts

Performance Art from East Asia

(09 March 01 - 06 May 01)

Homeland Art (HeimatKunst)

Cultural Diversity in Germany

(01 April 00 - 02 July 00)