Thursday, 27 February 2014

Review of Chiharu Shiota: Dialogues at the New Art Gallery, Walsall

Chiharu Shiota: Dialogues
New Art Gallery, Walsall
17 January – 30 March 2014

Anyone who hasn’t yet heard of Chiharu Shiota soon will have done. Taught by Marina Abramović and influenced to such an extent by Ana Mendieta that she believed herself to be an incarnation of the tragic Cuban, her ethereal installations blend Lygia Clark with Christian Boltanski, innocence with experiences of trauma, unbearable weight with the lightness of being. Born in Japan in 1972, Shiota has been based in Germany since crossing the globe in 1996 to study under Abramović, initially at the Hochschule für Bildende Künste in Braunschweig, and latterly at the Universität der Künste, Berlin, where she has been based ever since. “It’s a funny story,” Shiota explains. “I wanted to study with the Polish artist Magdalena Abakanowicz. I got their names mixed up, but Marina accepted me anyway, and I began my life in Germany.” A fortunate mistake, it would seem, for Abramović clearly taught Shiota a lot about the power of the body in art, the value of duration in performance and the suggestive possibility of absent presence.

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