54th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia. Memory of Books. Interview with Chiharu Shiota and James Putnam.


Memory of Books, Gervasuti Foundation. 54th International Art Exhibition, La Biennale di Venezia. Interview with Chiharu Shiota and James Putnam by Ilari Valbonesi

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 Memory of Books at the 54th Venice Biennale, a new site-specific installation by Chiharu Shiota curated by James Putnam.

Shiota will create an evocative installation by suspending countless strands of black wool from the walls, floors and ceiling of the space. This giant web through which visitors must find their way, envelops the hundreds of books Shiota found stacked up in situ at the Foundation. It criss-crosses the space forming a visible network that connects a simple reading table and chair, piles of books and loose pages, together with the surrounding room. Shiota’s work typically relates to memory and the interwoven threads are symbolic of human relationships with the place and found objects. It is as if the complex web of thread is transmitting the aura radiated by the books or the individuals that once read them.

Memory is essentially the retention of accumulated knowledge in this case symbolized by the books, the information they contain and the lives of their past readers.

‘Memory of Books’ coincides with ‘The Knowledge’ an exhibition also curated by James Putnam at the Gervasuti Foundation and the launch of Chiharu Shiota’s new monograph with texts by Mami Kataoka and James Putnam published by Hatje Cantz, Berlin.

Chiharu Shiota, born in Osaka, in 1972, moved from Japan to Germany in 1996, to study under the performance artist Marina Abramovicć and the installation artist Rebecca Horn. Besides being a performance artist, Shiota is best known for creating room-filling, monumental yet delicate, poetic environments of black thread and found objects. Central to the artist’s work are the themes of remembrance and oblivion, dreaming and sleeping, traces of the past and childhood, and dealing with anxieties. She has received numerous international awards and scholarships. In 2011 she participated in ‘Hello Kitty!’ at the Japan Society, NY, curated by David Elliot, and she had solo exhibitions at La Maison Rouge, Paris, and at ‘Detached – Tasmania Museum & Art Gallery’, in cooperation with the Museum of New and Modern Art, Tasmania. Recent exhibitions include the Hayward Gallery, Haunch of Venison London, Moscow Biennale, Aichi Triennale, and the Setouchi International Arts Festival.

Produced in collaboration with the Gervasuti Foundation, Venice. Supported by Shiseido. With thanks for generous support from Mr Soichiro Fukutake.