This week I dragged my best friend along to one of the most underrated (but highly instagrammed) contemporary art exhibitions in London – Chiharu Shiota’s ‘Me Somewhere Else’.
The thing about contemporary art is that it rarely has a straightforward explanation. I once read somewhere that ‘you don’t need a degree to understand contemporary art — just an open mind; that pretty much sums it all up. Like it or not Contemporary art is emotive, and more often that not it makes people feel irked at not understanding the piece. Let’s face it, how often do you hear people say, ‘a child could have done that’ or ‘I don’t get this kind of art’.
Shiota’s work definitely evokes emotion but for me it was sheer awe. The highlight of her exhibition is an explosion of interconnected blood red yarn that stems from a pair of feet – Shiota’s feet no less. I absolutely love that it’s an immersive installation on such a huge scale.
Shiota wanted to examine the idea that human consciousness could exist independently of the body, somewhere beyond – somewhere else. She says ‘I feel that my body is connected to the universe but is my consciousness as well? When my feet touch the earth, I feel connected to the world, to the universe that is spread like a net of human connections, but if I don’t feel my body anymore where do I go? Where do I go when my body is gone? When my feet do not touch the ground anymore.’
For such a chaotic looking installation, it certainly does evoke a sense of serenity. Visitors had taken a seat all along the window ledge of the room and sat soaking it all in. My friend and I had only intended on staying for half an hour and we were there well over an hour just taking in the art.
In the second room are smaller, more private pieces that continue to explore Shiota’s themes of time and connections are displayed. In In the Hand (2018), a cluster of bronze wire rhomboids fizz away from a cast of the artist’s daughter’s hand, signalling a wealth of future possibilities.
The standout piece in this room though is State of Being (Dress) (2018). This has an altogether different feel to the other works. Unlike the red organic form of Me Somewhere Else, Shiota utilizes a rectangular frame densely criss-crossed by black thread in which she has suspended a white dress. It’s a breathtaking piece of art.
If you’re in central London or want a quiet escape from the hustle and bustle of Oxford street, I would definitely recommend visiting Blain Southern for this exhibition.
Chiharu Shiota’s ‘Me Somewhere else’ is on until 19th January 2019 – Do not miss this one!