Review on Chiharu Shiota ‘Uncertain Journey’ at Blain Southern Gallery Berlin

Chiharu Shiota´s bright red yarn installation in Berlin’s Blain Southern Gallery emanates a fascination you hardly can withdraw from. Not only because of the size and the unique character of the art piece itself (Shiota uses almost 360 000 meter of yarn) but especially because ‘Uncertain Journey’ crawls under the skin. 

The yarn in red and black has become her most significant trademark, that is interweaving everyday objects such as clothes, keys, chairs and luggage into a highly complex network of memories and emotions.

Red yarn covers the ceiling of the exhibition space. Immediately one feel indispensably reminded of the inner of man. One think of veins or body fluids such as blood. The yarn is bundled in a funnel by six boats, six metal skeletons, that are installed on the floor of the Gallery.

The boats, that are giving the association that they have been sunk, immediately caught my attention. The installation got me thinking of the ocean and its mystery. The ocean is defined as a symbol of our unconsciousness, as hope and truth in our life. The boat itself made me feel the desire to sail away, to escape from ordinary life without having a real destination, which is what Shiota called life itself to be – a trip without a defined destination.

In psychology, the ocean is a symbol for the mother. Here, linked to the omnipresent red yarn of the installation it is no wonder that some of the visitors immediately feel associated with the structure of the uterus, as the symbol of all life indeed. Red is the color of human body, of endometrium, of blood, menstrual blood. And it is the material of the human body that is ambiguously symbolizing life and death.

The indication of human flesh is continuing on the second floor of the Gallery as you can see in Skin, Shiotas threads on canvas. The installation State of Being is dominated by black yarn that has interwoven keys into a spider- web- like mesh. The key is still the symbol for home to Shiota, for safety and security. We lock our home to protect what is ours. The net is also the territory of the spider, that is assumed as the goddess of destiny.

Not only was I fascinated by Shiotas work, I also was touched. This instant made me listen to the beat of my heart and I have become speechless feeling blissful.

(c) All pictures by Jakob Gorowski


What? Chiharu Shiota – Uncertain Journey

Where? Blain Southern Gallery Berlin

When? Until the 12th of November 2015

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