In Silence



In Silence

by Chiharu Shiota
Installation art

View an image of the artwork

An intricate web of black thread extends from a non-descript, grey carpet to arch overhead, enveloping the blank walls. The entire room is shrouded in a dark haze, constructed from a seemingly infinite number of knots, weaved together to form a graphic blanket with no discernible beginning or end. In Silence creates intimacy within the neutral exhibition space, as viewers navigate the room as dictated by the delicate net.

Nestled within the miles of entangled fibres are a handful of chairs, scattered around a charred grand piano as if poised and waiting for a recital that will never begin. The scorches suggest that the canopy is a form of protection, suspending the instrument in a cocoon in order to shield it from further injury. Among the silence, an acute sense of sadness and loss hangs in the air, as if the artist has trapped her own painful memories here.

Words by Katherine Fieldgate

In a concert hall long abandoned, rows of seats are left unused. They are turned towards a piano, which is burned and damaged, its lid left open. Countless black threads are spun between them, forming a dark mesh within which the objects are caught. The chairs are bound not only to each other and the instrument they face, but also to the space around them, the floors and walls. It seems as if a cobweb has grown from the corner of a room, to ensnare anything it encounters, to engulf all soundlessly.

But perhaps this is too pessimistic a reading. Maybe the threads evoke not a spider’s lair, associated with dust and dirt, but a thriving neural network, in which the experiential element of the concert is considered. Each imagined listener is connected to all else in the room, the linked lattice laid bare for visitors to the venue. From the acoustics to the comfort of a chair, from the make of piano to the behaviour of fellow concertgoers, each component has an irreversible effect on how the musical material is understood.

Words by John Wadsworth

More to discover

Visit Chiharu Shiota's website here. Yvette Greslé has interviewed the artist for FAD Magazine. Skye Sherwin has written about Shiota for The Guardian, as has Maddy Murphy in a blog post titled 'Resonating Memory'.

Question of the day

Is the reception of all art entangled with personal memories? Share your thoughts on Facebook, Patreon, or Twitter.

Yes. Everything is entangled with personal memories!

– Ann Marie Fleming, filmmaker (Window Horses, The Magical Life of Long Tack Sam) (via The Brief →)

Yes, we cannot escape ourselves. We experience art through our personal embodied senses in space and time, and that includes the filter of our memories.

– Claire Carré, film director and editor (Embers) (via The Brief →)

Read more: Installation art