Craig Davies for Art-Sheep
All photography by Sunhi Mang / Courtesy of Chiharu Shiota

The Japanese pavilion of this years Venice Art Biennale is a spectacular installation by Japanese artist Chiharu Shiota.

Titled “The Key in Hand”, the work consists of a gigantic red maze of yarn that covers the ceiling of the space, while it comprises more than 50,000 keys hanging from a cloud of tightly interwoven string.

This net creates a labyrinth of combined materials that create a path the visitors need to follow and explore. Beneath this complex of threads and keys, there are two boats who seem to “hook” the hanging keys, the way a fisherman empties his catch.

Shiota plays with the notion of memory, with his thousands of keys previously belonging to various people from all over the world. As he explains, “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.”

“With these thoughts in mind, in this new installation I would like to use keys provided by the general public that are imbued with various recollections and memories that have accumulated over a long period of daily use. As I create the work in the space, the memories of everyone who provides me with their keys will overlap with my own memories for the first time. These overlapping memories will in turn combine with those of the people from all over the world who come to see the Biennale, giving them a chance to communicate in a new way and better understand each other’s feelings,” states the artist.

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