United States

Chiharu Shiota

The impact of simplicity can be fantastic. Immersive, basic materials, closing in on those who pass through until you aren’t sure where the art ends and the surroundings begin. In fact, it’s hard to distinguish between the former and the latter a lot of the time. Am I talking about the art or the way it is presented? The line between is so thin this piece of writing may become redundant and rendered useless as it totally evades the point at hand.

The piece that is causing me to trip over my own words and thought processes is by an artist I was lucky enough to encounter the gallery of in New York recently. In short, the actual work was constructed by netting very modest wool round and round, stapling it off of the walls until it formed a spider like nest that engulfed the room and all those who dared enter. There were several chairs tangled up in the mess, barely visible due to the amount of weaving. Unknown too me, due to the fact they were highly obscured by the string, but the chairs were burnt heavily all over adding too the massive sense of black shadow that the piece had. Whether or not I believe there to be enough of a talking point on this piece of art to fill up a rather daunting one thousand words, I can’t say.

Finding presentational style contexts within another artist’s practise is hard, very hard. I find little cohesion in my work; tangents coming off of every available point. This is because I have always been of the stand point that I should make work about things that intrigue me, but the same thing may not intrigue me twice.

Shiota’s piece definitely captured me in terms of its content, it was very striking, this mass of black netting that swallows you whole as you enter into it; travelling deeper into its lurking depths, but is this essentially the correct thing to write about? The location it was based in (your standard white cube style space) definitely had bearing on its final outcome, but where exactly does the art lie in relation to how the walls around it hold its shape? With any site specific installation you have to consider the walls that give the structure to the essence of the work, this is a very real element of the work but also the frame in which you surround your masterpiece.

I suppose this is all just mindless filler in a way, but with such a tricky task, drawing parallels with fellow artists in terms of presentation, I find my usual pleonastic nature stuck for words slightly. I know that I engaged with this piece well, and enjoyed experiencing it. I know for example that I enjoyed the fact that Chiharu Shiota spanned genres within fine art as I consider myself to do. For instance some of his work was less site specific, less built on location. She has done linear works that obviously went hand in hand with her installation, but were done this time with a pen on a canvas. She has also presented smaller plinth mounted sculptures following the same suite as her work with wool. One piece featured a caged a light bulb, bound tight with the same twine that surrounded me as I observed it.

This mixture of classic practises within art built a very exciting space, one that interested me more as someone with a less directional practise. I could also relate heavily with the way that the work was built into the space, almost like it was a temporary extension of a more physical space. This is an area that I have become more interested with of late, creating something that is more of an ensemble of objects within a more firm footed real location such as the classic gallery space. I can’t claim there to be much if any real correlation between my work and Shiota’s. I suppose in a way I aspire to create work that has the same sort of impact. Its relationship with the gallery that houses it is such a close, tender one, it stirs heavy admiration in me. I’ve always found a certain amount of embarrassment within my own practice, probably due to a severe lack of confidence, but the boldness of such a simple idea, the way it is cradled by the surrounding walls almost fills me with a new sense of hope.

The thing that captured my interest so much about this artists work was the bravery of it, the fact the wool did spill onto the opposite walls, shamelessly simple, shamelessly using the walls to the full. This is an artist who knows the meaning of beauty, efficiency and worth.

So, the presentational aspects of Shiota’s work that I can relate to my own, they are few and far between in many ways. At a stretch, I could say that myself and Shiota are both concerned with environment, diverse integrations of inspiration, confusion and a general sense of feeling overwhelmed to form a body of work that feels like an amalgamation of a mind at war. But this is straying across the subtle border between concept and presentation. I suppose this work has made me more aware of this line, the need for location to be perfect and intertwined with the art in the same way Chiharu literally bound her art into her gallery. The two become one in a very real way when you tackle the task of an on-site installation. It has definitely helped me come to terms with elements I will have to confront more in the future with works that I hope to achieve.