Chiharu Shiota:
Presence in the Absence

Burton & Judy Onofrio Main Gallery

Chiharu Shiota is a Japanese performance and installation artist best known for creating monumental, yet delicate, poetic environments. Central to the artist’s work are themes of remembrance and oblivion, dreaming and sleeping, traces of the past and childhood, and addressing anxiety. Shiota explores the relationship between waking life and memories through hauntingly beautiful installations that incorporate everyday objects like shoes, pianos, chairs, and hospital beds encased in webs of yarn. Stretched in multi-layers throughout the gallery space, Shiota weaves disorienting cocoons of black yarn that reflect the artist’s desire to “draw in the air.”

For her exhibition at Rochester Art Center, Shiota presents a new, site-specific installation that will fill the Burton and Judy Onofrio Main Gallery with more than 1,000,000 feet of black yarn. Utilizing charred and burned chairs as a central component of the installation, this work envelops the gallery dramatically and temporarily modifies the space, providing a truly unique experience for the viewer. In addition to this installation, the artist also presents new drawings and video work in the adjacent Accent Gallery. This ambitious presentation is Shiota’s largest US exhibition to date. Rochester Art Center is publishing an exhibition catalog which will include installation photography, a selection of poetry by Japanese poet Tanikawa Shuntarō, and an essay by Kris Douglas, RAC Chief Curator. The catalog is Shiota’s first US publication, and will be available for purchase later this Spring.

Chiharu Shiota (b.1972) was born in Osaka, Japan. She received her artistic training in Japan, Australia, and Germany. Upon completion of her studies, she established her studio in Berlin. Recent solo and group exhibitions include: Chiharu Shiota – Letters of Thanks, Museum of Art, Kochi, Japan (2013); TO BE OR NOT TO BE. Portrait Today, Munich Modern, Munich, Germany (2013); Other Side, Haunch of Venison, New York, USA (2012); Trauma, Galería Nieves Fernández, Madrid, Spain (2012); The Best of Times, the Worst of Times, The First Kiev International Biennale of Contemporary Art, Kiev, Ukraine (2012); Third Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art, Moscow, Russia (2009); Drawn in the Clouds, Museum of Contemporary Art, Kiasma, Helsinki, Finland (2008); and The Body Sings of Life, Marugame Genichiro-Inokuma Museum of Contemporary Art, Kagawa, Japan (2007). Her work is included in the collections of Neue Kunst, Freiburg; The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo; KIASMA, Helsinki; 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa; and The National Museum of Art, Osaka.

Thank you to the many volunteers who assisted in the production of this installation!

Barb Anderson, Eric Anderson, Evelyna Arnold, Cathy Ashton, Emily Augustin, Josh Augustin, Mike Augustin, Tracy Austin, Steve Bartz, Chantal Beaulieu, Kelli Brevick, Sheila Broughton, Andrea Brown, Tia Calvert, Amber Caron, Nell Carpenter, Sarah Christensen, Linda Cooper, Ellen Corbett, Crist Dahl, Barbara Depman, Betty Devine, Donny Dreyer, Kate Dudgeon, Kip Dunn-Walker, Andrea Ebbert, Jade Ebbert, Sebastian Eising, Chris Elkin, Kevin Ewing, Karl Friedrich, Matthew Gardner, Jessica Gascoigne, Anne George, Mulli Harris, Maren Haugen, Michele Heidel, Peter Hoffman, Ann Hutton, Richard Hutton, Stephanie Ims-Goin, Kumiko Kawashima, Sandy Kintzele, Diane Klein, Kari Koenigs, Mary Ellen Landwehr, Cynthia Larson, Robbie LeFleur, Cortney M., Stella Madden, Kirk Magee, Carley McHenry, Angela McHugh, Molly McMahan, Matthew Moore, Heather Nessler, Ben Owen, Alexandra Paisley, Kathleen Panetta, Maggie Panetta, Sherri Lu Pappas, Alisha Paulson, Amanda Phillippi, Francesca Ripple, Carrie Robinson-Cannon, Lorna Ross, Molly Rudolph, Amaana Sheif, Maggie Scanlon, Lilly Simmons, Mary Skoy, Catherine Sturchio, Yuko Taniguchi, Lauren Thompson, Julie Troutman, Stephen Troutman, Phil Wheeler, Sue Wheeler, Matt Winkler, Yolanda Zimmer, and Vladana Zoric.

BYOS: Monday, May 19  |  9 am – 5 pm
Just as our community of volunteers came together to create this stunning installation, we invite you for one final experience with the piece as we begin the deinstallation process. Next Monday, join us in the gallery and take a memento from this exhibition with you. Bring Your Own Scissors and snip out some yarn (as much as you’d like) to recreate your own personal installation or repurpose as you choose.


This exhibition is supported by Japan Foundation, Shiseido Cosmetics, The Andy Warhol Foundation for Visual Art and Elizabeth Firestone Graham Foundation.

Image: Chiharu Shiota, Presence in the Absence, 2014, mixed media installation, dimensions variable (detail).  Photo by Caylon Hackwith.