Venice Biennale 2015 – Part 3. Chiharo Shiota.
Shiota’s sculpture comprises thousands of tiny, rusty antique keys that are suspended from a complex array of red strings. They dangle above, droop down and almost consume old wooden fish boats that are mounted to appear lurching in rough seas. Thousands more keys spill out on the floor from under the boats.
The length of the strings combined with the sheer volume of them gives the illusion of a solid and forms a ceiling of arches like a cave or a church. You move about the space by following the hallways formed under the arches. There is so much string that it absorbs sound and lends a hush throughout the pavilion, even with dozens of visitors present. The threads are back lit from above and the interior white walls of the pavilion are changed to hues of pink at a distance. Up close, their shadows appear to be drawings of etched lines on the walls, giving the sculpture a 2D element.
You can search Shiota and discover her meaning for this sculpture, but my interpretation is the string represents blood, the overarching sustenance for our bodies. We each hold in our hand the key for our individual wellbeing, yet we are all interconnected – spiritually, culturally, socially. The fish boats represent the food nourishment we need as a key element to sustain our blood and our bodies.
Shiota’s latest body of work involves string connecting objects. This sculpture was definitely a highlight of the Biennale for Michelle and I. It must have taken a huge team of assistants to erect the sculpture, and the result is very moving.