August 29, 2020 5:06 PM

TWELV interviewed performance and installation artist Chiharu Shiota and discussed her personal and professional life, as well as her inspiration and what plans she has for the future. The COVID-19 pandemic halted many happenings, locally and globally. The virus however did not prevent Chiharu Shiota from making art.  In fact, Shiota says she is an artist 24 hours of the day, and staying home during quarantine allowed her to focus more on her work. Although she said it is difficult to plan ahead because of the uncertainty of the future, she said that she will participate in a group show in Korea and Italy, and will exhibit a solo show in Vietnam. Shiota, native of Japan but resident of Berlin, is an artist who is quickly growing in world-wide popularity and recognition for her work. Her work typically touches upon both Japanese and German themes, and she said that although she is influenced by both due to her circumstances, she is generally inspired by her life. The subject of Shiota's work is "existence in the absence". Her art expresses what she could not put into words. Shiota also opened up about her battle with cancer and how that influenced her work and allowed her to use her drawings as a diary.

1. Would you say that your art contains influences of Japan and Berlin, or have you transcended the need to represent homeland identity in your creations?

I grew up in Japan, but I am not making Japanese or German Art. I am influenced by Japan and Berlin because of my circumstance. I am inspired by my life. 

2. Will we ever see you make a return to painting?

I do not make oil paintings anymore, and I am not a painter. But I still create a lot of drawings. They are like my personal diary. 

3. I’ve noticed you’re very hands-on with the creation of your own art installations. Of course, you need the help of others but will there ever be a point where you’re completely hands-off and simply directing the process?

If I create an installation exactly the same as before, maybe you can make a video of how it is made, but it would not help because the next time everything is different. No one can see what is in my brain, and it is impossible to tell what I see. 

4. Getting married and finding love in Berlin, a home away from home, did that affect your art?

Yes, this is my life and my experience. It is always connected to my art. I am an artist 24 hours every day. 

5. It is obvious that you utilize colors, shapes, and patterns. Can people ever expect sound to be in a Chiharu Shiota artwork, is that something you’ll ever do?

No, I am not planning on working with sound. Some performance videos have sound, but the installations are too powerful. The sight of the installation is already strong, and if there would be sound as well, it would be too much information for visitors to process, too much for the brain. 

6. What motivates you to come to work? What inspires your artwork?  

When I was traveling, I had time to think in the airplane or on the train. When I have limited time but free time I think about my life and work. When I see the sky from the airplane, my mind wonders. 

7. Do you have any regrets with any of your artworks?

I have many. Art is never perfect. That is why I need the next exhibition, to try to make it perfect. 

8. Did you intend to stay in Berlin as long as you have or did that just sort of happen?

I wanted to come to Berlin, and then I happened to stay here, I met my husband, made a family. There is never an exact plan. 

9. Do you have a specific/certain creative process or paradigm to your work, or does each new creation differ in how you approach it?

Every space is different, and every ceiling and wall is different, but the process is similar. That is why I need to see the space at first, then I can make a plan. 

10. Dealing with ovarian cancer and overcoming it, how did that affect the themes in your art?

It influenced my work in many ways. For example, for a long time, I could not draw anymore, I think for almost ten years. But after dealing with cancer, I started drawing again. Before I was thinking about making drawings, but after the cancer diagnoses, I tried to make drawings without a technique, it was more about my feeling, what is inside. My drawings have become my diary. 

11. Do you feel there’s anything that you haven’t been able to translate through your work, emotions or ideas too complicated to properly display perhaps?

My work always expresses something I can’t explain myself. If I can’t explain, I make art – maybe my work comes close to explaining these feelings because I can never explain them with language. It is more explained by eyesight not by language. 

12. With me being someone that has a growing interest/belief in Shinto, a quote from you that really got my attention is “most of my work is about the memory in absent things”. Can you go deeper into that?

Yes, this is the theme of my work – ‘existence in the absence’. If someone dies, then suddenly you feel their existence more. The memory is stronger, even though the body is not there. The feeling or memory remains stronger. 

13. Leaving home and embarking on a new journey, was there any nervousness or doubts about heading out to Germany, or were you ready?

I felt very free, finally I left Japan. I felt ready. In Japan, I finished studying, but I was not invited to create any museum shows or gallery shows as an artist, I was too young. In Japan, at the time there were only private galleries to rent, and I had no money to rent space for my show. I was very happy to come to Germany to study again and continue to create art. 

14. Would you say that Marina Abramović (Chiharu's teacher in a German art school) changed your life? 

I actually wanted to study with Magdalena Abakanowicz, but I accidently studied with Marina because my friend mixed up their names – this mix up changed my life. 

16. The performance art training that you underwent, was it rigorous? And during that training, was there ever a moment where you wanted to quit?

It was not really a performance art training. The class fasted for one week. Others made sculptures, or paintings, I did a performance. I did not want to quit; it was hard but necessary.

17. What are your hard limits when it comes to performance art, I ask because I’ve seen that you’re willing to fast for days, go completely naked and more, so I’m just wondering where did you draw the line?

It is more about changing perception, like writing my name, just writing my name for one hour or to sit for one hour across from each other or to walk all day around the lake, it just takes a long time to do it. Our ordinary life is fast, we run and run, we are very busy, we never have time to write our name for one hour. If I want to do this for art, I will.

18. How important is family to you?

Very important because we do not exist alone, we need connection – I am connected to my husband and daughter, we share different countries (Japan, Korea and Germany) but are still strongly connected. 

19. With a global pandemic happening this year and people not being allowed to gather in large groups for quite some time, how does that affect your art, now and in the foreseeable future?

For me as an artist, it was perfect to stay at home actually. I could concentrate on my work, I did not have to travel, I did not need to go to the openings and just stayed home and worked at the studio, it was a good time for me. But on the other side, all my exhibitions were cancelled or postponed. It was very hard and difficult to plan the next steps of the projects and to reschedule everything. Now, I try to make more work at the studio and send it to the exhibition spaces. Normally, I would travel to the site and create the installation at the museum space or gallery space, but because of Corona I could not fly, so now I am trying to create new works at the studio. 

20. Can you tell us a bit about what’s next for Chiharu Shiota's artwork? What can we see in the upcoming project? What will be challenging?

Most difficult is still to plan everything since we don’t know what will happen in the future. Many exhibitions are not officially announced yet. But I will participate in a group show in Korea, and in Italy, and will exhibit a solo show in Vietnam in Autumn.





related posts

Photo by Tasha Tongpreecha

ROCK|THEM Blings the Lower East Side

ROX Gallery, an uber chic addition to LES art scene, held the ROCK|THEM opening reception on May 29, 2013.

June 05, 2013 1:49 PM  |  Art / Culture
Randy Mulder, Photograph by Roman Yee


On Friday May 31, 2013, Village Playback Theatre hosted its Spring Gala at Lincoln Center to honor its patrons, actors, colleagues, and clients with cocktails, a live auction, and an...

June 03, 2013 12:58 PM  |  Art / Culture
Mia Baxter, Far Out Far West, 20" x 20", 2012

UNICEF’s Next Generation Photo Benefit

On May 17, UNICEF hosted its 4th annual Next Generation Photo Benefit at the Milk Gallery presented by Serenity Pharmaceuticals.

May 20, 2013 3:54 PM  |  Art / Culture
Christo Vladimirov Javacheff

National Academy Museum Honors Christo Vladimirov Javacheff

The National Academy, which describes itself as “a lively community of artists, architects, educators, students, museum-goers, and those dedicated to the arts in America,” honored installation...

May 20, 2013 1:16 PM  |  Art / Culture
Photo by Tasha Tongpreecha


This week, Frieze Art Fair came back to New York to bring together 180 of the best international galleries for what The New York Times called a “hugely successful contemporary art extravaganza” on...

May 14, 2013 11:36 AM  |  Art / Culture
Photo by Guillaume Roemaet of Co-Founders Vivian Brodie and Dylan Brant

Y & S: Incubator for Young Artists

A foot in the door. That is what Y&S promises.

April 18, 2013 5:18 PM  |  Art / Culture
Surprise Guest John Legend and chef Eric Ripert

Practical Magic at City Harvest

Last night, City Harvest hosted their annual gala honoring Chef Marc Murphy, "An Evening of Practical Magic".

April 17, 2013 9:54 PM  |  Art / Culture
Hosts Ian Gerard & Nicole Nadeau

Serge Strosberg's Agalmatophilia Opening

Wednesday night tastemakers from the art, style, and fashion worlds met to celebrate Strosberg's latest works, the Agalmatophilia collection. Syndicate 5 produced the opening reception for...

March 28, 2013 2:14 AM  |  Art / Culture
Sleeping Idol, oil and egg tempera on canvas

Serge Strosberg at the MAve Hotel

After successful exhibitions abroad, the formally trained Belgium artist, Serge Strosberg settled in Soho in 2008.

March 25, 2013 12:00 AM  |  Art / Culture

Tony Custer: Flavors of Charity

Although Tony Custer has received no formal culinary training, the cook, author, and editor says, “A year stage working in Paris, between college and business...

March 20, 2013 7:33 PM  |  Art / Culture
Untitled, 2012 Oil and mixed media on canvas 72 X 60 inches SB8582

STEVEN BINDERNAGEL: The Bursting Grids of Steven Bindernagel

March 20, 2013 11:39 AM  |  Art / Culture

Jeremy Scott Unveils his Winged Creation for Smart Car

After leaving his mark on Adidas sneakers, fashion designer Jeremy Scott took his influence one step further by adding his signature wings on the petite auto brand, Smart Car....

December 12, 2012 5:07 PM  |  Art / Culture

The Beginning Is the End is the Beginning

Unnumerable answers have been given to eternal questions, that are still open up for intellectual, perpetual debates.

November 09, 2012 12:26 PM  |  Art / Culture
Playa Vik Jose Ignacio

Uruguayan Art at the Vik

Alex and Carrie Vik are the owners and visionaries behind the Vik Retreats, located in Uruguay.

August 23, 2012 2:35 AM  |  Art / Culture
Matt Langridge, British bronze medalist in men's eight rowing

Lost in London

Esteemed NYC based photographer Caroll Taveras ‘You Are Here’ Selections for TWELV

August 17, 2012 11:52 AM  |  Art / Culture

visuals to the gathered mind

Shain Parker is a Young Creative from Suffolk, Virginia. Shain is a multi media artist creating digital art, fashion design, painting as well as film.

July 23, 2012 2:17 PM  |  Art / Culture
twelv magazine

Carl E Smith's Space Beauties...

Carl E. Smith is a California based artist and graphic designer known for his seductive collages culled from the pages of fashion glossies.

July 06, 2012 10:13 PM  |  Art / Culture
Laib sifts pollen through a muslin sheet.

Wolfgang Laib Cites Nature as Inspiration When Creating Art

Ritual plays a central role in all of Laib’s highly reductive art.

June 22, 2012 9:29 PM  |  Art / Culture

Artist Installs Dead Animals in London Restaurant

British artist, Damien Hirst, designed a glass tank with two dead animals for Tramshed Restaurant in London.  Artistically appetizing, right?

June 22, 2012 9:13 PM  |  Art / Culture
Soundsuit  2011 , mix media, by Nick Cave <b> Photo: James Prinz


American Artist Nick Cave was born 1959 in Missouri, best known for his imaginative "Soundsuits...

June 15, 2012 8:02 PM  |  Art / Culture

Things to Make You Happy!

Yum Yum London’s lighthearted videos will brighten your day. Beth and Johnny from the creative studio aim to do just that. “We make happy things for you.

June 07, 2012 9:03 PM  |  Art / Culture
“The Parade: Nathalie Djurberg with Music by Hans Berg,” 2012. Exhibition view: New Museum. Photo: Benoit Pailley

Nathalie Djurberg's 'The Parade' Bring Flocks To The New Museum

Berlin based Swedes Nathalie Djurberg and Hans Berg’s exhibition ‘The Parade’ at The New Museum welcomes an unnerving, yet captivating response from its viewers.

May 31, 2012 12:43 PM  |  Art / Culture

Love Inspired

Our creative subjects give our photographers the energy and vibrancy to produce memorable and talked-about photographs, which will then be incorporated with carefully selected, provoking...

May 01, 2012 12:55 PM  |  Art / Culture
Tyngdkraft, var min vän (Gravity Be My Friend), 2007<br>Installation view, FACT, Liverpool, United Kingdom, 2008<br>Photo: Brian Slater

Pipilotti Rist

Renowned Swiss artist Pipilotti Rist is undoubtedly one of the world’s more illustrious  talents when it comes to the art of audio-video installations.

May 01, 2012 12:39 PM  |  Art / Culture
by © Yayoi Kusama Studios Inc.© Yayoi Kusama“Self-Obliteration 1967”<br>Yayoi KusamaART

Yayoi Kusama: An Outsider to Infinity

In Yayoi Kusama’s world, everything is a polka dot — the cosmos, the earth, the world, stars, the moon, and people.

May 01, 2012 12:20 PM  |  Art / Culture


SITE BY: monocomplex©Marbles & Marbles International Inc. Drupal Development by: DivDiv, NYC
▲ back to top ▲