ZKM reopens with a spectacular installation by Chiharu Shiota

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ZKM reopens with a spectacular installation by Chiharu Shiota
Detail of Chiharu Shiota's »Connected to Life« © Chiharu Shiota. Connected to Life, VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn, 2021, Installation view. Photo: ZKM | Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe, Felix Grünschloß.

KARLSRUHE.- On Wednesday, March 17, the ZKM opened its doors with a spectacular installation, which sets a visual symbol for the pandemic-stricken present. The installation Connected to Life (2021) by artist Chiharu Shiota, born 1972 in Osaka, Japan, and currently living in Berlin, was curated by Richard Castelli und Peter Weibel. The artwork situates the visitor in current events:

“The installation Connected to Life by Chiharu Shiota is a memorial to commemorate the victims of the COVID-19 virus, and a tribute to those who work tirelessly every day for the health and lives of their fellow human beings while risking their own.” (Peter Weibel)

A cascade of 57 metal bedsteads from the ceiling to the floor calls to mind the current images of hospital corridors. The plastic tubes filled with red color are like the veins through which vital blood and oxygen flow. The installation also stands for the hope that human compassion and science can help us find a way out of the pandemic and overcome its consequences.

The impact of the pandemic on public life, private interactions, and the cultural sector is tangible. Closed museums, theaters, concert halls without visitors, self-employed people wait for financial support and fight for their very existence. The pandemic has again brought to light the deficits in the health system, and hospitals globally are working at the limits of their capacity. The death toll is increasing daily, and new mutations make the virus harder to contain. The entrance halls of cultural institutions such as the ZKM are usually a place of encounter, of exchange, where visitors, students, employees, school classes and artists mingle and meet. Without the current pandemic they would be buzzing with life – now they are silent.

With her ability to combine in her works fear and softness, monumental and intimate, the acclaimed Japanese artist Chiharu Shiota has created the large-scale installation Connected to Life for the ZKM foyer. Chiharu Shiota’s inspiration often emerges from a personal experience or emotion, which she expands into universal human concerns such as life, death, and relationships. She has redefined concepts such as memory and consciousness by collecting ordinary objects like shoes, keys, beds, chairs, and dresses, and engulfing them in immense structures of threads. She explores this sensation of “a presence in the absence” with her installations, and presents intangible emotions in her sculptures, drawings, performance videos, photographs, and canvases.

In 2008, she was awarded The Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology’s Art Encouragement Prize for New Artists in Japan. Her work has been exhibited at international institutions worldwide including at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Wellington, NZ (2020); Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, JP (2019); Gropius Bau, Berlin, DE (2019); Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, AU (2018); Yorkshire Sculpture Park, UK (2018); Power Station of Art, Shanghai, CN (2017); K21 Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf, DE (2015) among others. In 2015, Shiota was chosen to represent Japan at the 56th Venice Biennale, IT. As part of The Bayreuth Festival 2021 (25.07. - 25.08.2021) and the series Diskurs Bayreuth, the artist received a commission for an installation Götterdämmerung in the Festival Park, Bayreuth, DE.

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