The 56th Venice Biennale curated by Okwui Enwezor closed its gates on 22 November 2015. On this occasion, Japanese artist Chiharu Shiota, born in Osaka in 1972, represented her country.
She presented a large-scale installation, “The key in the hand”, a web made from 400 kilometers of interwoven red wooden strings and 50.000 keys hanging above two rowboats. The viewer was invited to walk beneath a blood-red, almost organic ceiling that seems to heavily weigh under his head.
Shiota is known to explore the notion of memory. In an interview she said: “The boats symbolize two hands catching a rain of memories, opportunities and hope. They seem to be moving forward floating calmly along a huge sea of global and individual human memory”. She seeks to work from and about traces, vestiges, footprints that the human being leaves behind him. The installation she proposed for the Venice Biennale is strongly related to this subject. She herself says: “Keys are familiar and very valuable things that protect important people and spaces in our lives”. That is why she managed to collect the keys from numerous private donations, like she was creating a sort of universal recollection about anonymous stories and experiences.
One cannot remain unmoved while looking at this installation. Indeed, the two boats are not without reminding us topical issues as the ones we are currently living: population displacements, abandonment, separation, but also the search for an elsewhere like Shiota explains: “The keys also inspire us to open the door to unknown worlds…”
For a live visit of the Japanese Pavilion: