Saturday, December 05, 2015

Powerful piece

In reading an article in the latest Sculpture magazine I encountered one piece at this year's Venice Biennale I would really have loved to experience: this wondrous combination of red wool, old boats, and donated keys.
Image from here
Image from here
Chiharu Shiota's installation The Key in Hand opens up so many avenues of thought, but somehow, like other work of hers which I have seen in reproduction only, it feels familiar: like uncanny or unwanted dreams at the edge of my consciousness - when, like keeping one foot out on the floor I know that I can wake up should I need to.
The visual allure of her pieces gives me a frisson before I know what they are perhaps meant to represent, and I hold on to my own interpretations while reading critical reviews.  The keys and the red wool lead me to think of the forbidden, taboo, of spilled blood, of the secret, precious, that are somehow lost with the boats, lost in the great numbers of the keys (how could one find the particular?)....   Shiota explains that ‘keys are familiar and very valuable things that protect important people and spaces in our lives. they also inspire us to open the door to unknown worlds' but for me it's the door that one wants to open.  The key's main purpose is to do with keeping it closed.  Perhaps this just singles me out as a pessimist.

This is art how I like it: powerful enough to carry both the maker's and the observer's meanings - and beautiful.


  1. That is indeed a magnificent piece along with all the interpreations from the artist and from you. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Yes, Marja-Leena, ever since I first saw that first photograph in the magazine, and then the others in the first image link, I have been thinking about the work and its effect on me. I love it when I encounter even small images of works like this from time to time - that demand to consume my thinking.

  3. A very powerful, thought-provoking piece. I would love to see it ''in the flesh, so to speak.

    1. Yes, Eirene, I also would like to see this, and other pieces of her work.