Image: Chiharu Shiota, I Hope... at KÖNIG Galerie Berlin © Sunhi Mang
On this day of St Valentine, let Chiharu Shiota’s first solo exhibition, "I Hope...", at KÖNIG GALERIE Berlin sweep you away on a sea of red thread. Confronting fundamental human concerns such as life, death and relationships, Shiota explores human existence using thread as a leitmotif of much of her work, woven like spider webs across cavernous rooms, often supporting mundane objects like keys, shoes, or in this case, letters.
Image: Chiharu Shiota, I Hope... (detail of letters), at KÖNIG Galerie Berlin © Sunhi Mang
Like all of us, Shiota is affected by the current pandemic — and with such a public and performative practice, many of her exhibitions are on hold for the foreseeable future. This exhibition has also not been able to open to the public due to local restrictions, yet she has brought the public to the heart of her work by collecting 10000 letters from around the globe which came in response to her invitation to people to write down their hopes. The letters — printed on red paper and suspended from the lofty ceiling on long cords of red thread — form an undulating, cosmic mass reminiscent of blood vessels and the circulatory system, revealing the hidden internal world inside all of us. The fibres also serve to interconnect the letters from almost every corner of the globe, making this no longer just the work of one artist, but of a global collective of diverse individuals, all united in hope — a refreshing change from the uncertainty we are all living in.
Video: Pianist Ulrike Haage and sound maker Christian Meyer perform in the installation space of the nave of the former St. Agnes Church.
The exhibition is a lyrical, ethereal response to the desire for a global community characterised by commanility rather than difference. Shiota has resolved to usher the world into the closed exhibition by inviting renowned musicians, performers, composers and dancers to perform in the otherwise empty installation space. The nave of the former St. Agnes Church, which now houses the KÖNIG GALERIE, provides an impressive setting for the messages of hope and connectedness conveyed through the artistic encounters between installation and performers.
You can read more about Chiharu Shiota's work in Selvedge Issue 97: Red.