With her new project titled “The Key in the Hand”, artist Chiharu Shiota will represent Japan at the 56th Venice Biennale, which run from 9 May till 22 November, 2015. Her newest work is based on a site-specific installation made up of over 50,000 keys which explores the notion of memory. Visitors to the Japan Pavilion will traverse a great cloud of keys hanging from red yarn. In placing spectator’s bodies at the heart of her work, Chiharu Shiota seeks to harness the expressive power of installations, which she describes as ‘the philosophy of the instant.


Chiharu Shiota uses the key as a ‘material that conveys our feelings,’ explains curator Hitoshi Nakano from the Kanagawa Arts Foundation. Familiar yet precious objects that guard our loved ones, our secrets and the important places in our lives, Chiharu Shiota tells us that keys are invitations ‘to open the door to unknown worlds.’
 In daily contact with human warmth, keys accumulate countless layers of memory. This is why Shiota is appealing to the public to donate the tens of thousands of keys needed for the project, each one repository of personal memories that will intertwine with visitor’s own reminiscences.


The installation also features two suspended boats parting the veil of keys, like hands attempting to catch a shower of memories. Shiota pairs the installation with “How did you come into the world?” a video projection showing young children talking about their birth memories, which will be projected onto the pavilion’s pile.

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all images © SUNHI MANG / courtesy of CHIHARU SHIOTA