Chiharu Shiota: Me Somewhere Else at Blain Southern
“When my feet touch the earth, I feel connected to the world, to the universe that is spread like a net of human connections, but if I don’t feel my body anymore, where do I go? Where do I go when my body is gone?”
In Chiharu Shiota’s new site-specific installation Me Somewhere Else at Blain Southern Gallery, the Japanese-born artist sets out to explore some of the central tenets and questions of human consciousness. The mind-body dichotomy has been investigated by philosophers and artists for millennia; Shiota’s contribution to the debate feels both pertinent and humble, despite the historic weight of the issue and the large scale on which the artist works.
Created using her signature knotted yarn, Shiota’s latest piece fills the entire central room of Blain Southern’s light-filled gallery. Whereas previous works have used a crisscrossing web of threads, here the artist has hand-knotted the blood-red yarn to create a net. The tension of different sections produces a variety of effects, including patches of dense colour and hanging amorphous shapes. The red yarn appears to be escaping the confines of the gallery space, nosing into the light fittings and around the corner towards the next room.
On the floor in the centre is a pair of bronze feet, from which this expansive net appears to rise and fill the room. Through this simple corporeal element, Shiota cleverly allows the yarn to represent both the body and human consciousness, drawing attention to the inherent tensions and inextricability of the two concepts.
Furthermore, the shape of the web with its network of capillary-like threads recalls the brain: both an organic biological structure and perhaps the metaphysical seat of the “something” that makes us ourselves. Shiota’s work encourages the viewer to ask questions: What is a brain without a body? Or a body without a brain? Do we exist in either the brain or the body, or “somewhere else” altogether?
The network of red string seems to want to expand ever-outwards, like tendrils of thought trying to make new connections. It makes you wonder: perhaps that “somewhere” is, in fact, everywhere.
Featured image: Chiharu Shiota, Me Somewhere Else (detail), 2018. Courtesy the artist and Blain Southern
photo by Sunhi Mang.
Chiharu Shiota: Me Somewhere Else is at Blain Southern from 28th November until 19th January 2019. For further information visit the exhibition’s website here.