⟨ Art ⟩

The Soul Trembles

Retrospective: The Installation Art of Chiharu Shiota

Text / Ron Lam
Translation / Iris Heung

塩田千春的裝置作品,總教人意緒翻騰。譬如說,2012年開始的作品系列〈Accumulation – Searching for the Destination〉,大堆穿過洲,過過省的的旅行箱,經歷了風風雨雨後相聚。旅行者,帶著必須品踏上旅途,他們知道身體將往哪裡去,卻不知道心靈將走得多遠。與之隨行的旅行箱,盛載著已然過去的盼望與期待,喜樂與焦慮,以及褪色的回憶。當它們聚首時,我們無暇細看它們滿臉風霜,已被內裡隱藏的故事散發出來的力量震攝。

塩田千春多以自身的經驗作為創作題材,〈Accumulation – Searching for the Destination〉的靈感源自她多年來過於頻繁的旅行經驗;又例如每次她自柏林回日本,穿上過往的鞋子,即使腳的大小沒變,她卻感覺不大調和;走在曾經熟悉的街頭時,竟覺得街道變窄了。這奇妙的感受後來成為她創作〈Over the Contients〉的源頭。這些經驗都是極個人化的,然而在創作之時,塩田千春會將自己抽離,用客觀的角度審視作品,她形容這彷是殺死自己般的自虐行為。然而,正因為她「自虐」,我們得以自她的作品之中,反照到自身的經驗——想起自己身處異地時的興奮與不安;聯想到在故鄉時的茫然——而非沉溺於她個人的感受裡。視覺上的震撼,搖動著我們內心細微的回憶,這或許就是塩見千春的作品的魅力之處。

二十年來的創作生涯裡,塩田千春經歷了生育、罹患癌症、康復又復發,經歷了的生生死死,使其作品更為深邃而耐人尋味。今年六月,東京的森美術館將舉行塩田千春的回顧展The Soul Trembles,包括了六件大型裝置作品、表演錄像、攝影、繪畫等等,將她多樣化的作品,一氣展示出來。

Chiharu Shiota never fails to create intriguing installation art. For instance, the Accumulation – Searching for the Destination series that she began back in 2012, features a vast collection of suitcases that have traveled around the world and experienced ups and downs, reunions and separations of people. When a traveler packs up their essentials for a trip, they know the destination of their physical body but would never know where their mind is headed to. The suitcase that accompanies people’s journeys contains emotions accumulated from the past — hopes and fears, the thrill of looking forward to encountering uncertainties. All sorts of faded memories are what the suitcase encloses. Gathering a great amount of these suitcases in the same space, the audience can have a good look at their scarred surface and be impressed by the power of the stories held by these suitcases.

The artwork of Shiota is usually related to her personal experience, Accumulation – Searching for the Destination was inspired by the years when she was constantly on the road. Whenever she returned to Japan from Berlin and put on her old shoes, they just did not feel as comfortable as they used to be, although she was sure that her feet’s size did not change. Being away from home for a while, the streets in the neighborhood would feel so much narrower all of a sudden. These unexplainable feeling prompted her to create the installation art piece Over the Continents. Although most of her works originate from personal experience, Shiota would detach herself to examine the works from an objective perspective. To her, this is a torturing process as if she is eliminating her own existence. Thanks to the “torturing process” she went through, the audiences are allowed to depart from the artist’s point of view and reflect on our own memory when appreciating her works. We could be reminded of the excitement and anxiety when being in a foreign land, as well as the sense of loss when missing home. Our mind is stimulated by the visual impact that in turn stirs up some of our insignificant but heartwarming memories. This is perhaps why Shiota’s work is so powerful.

During her career as an artist for the past twenty years, Shiota has experienced many life-changing events. She became a mother, she was diagnosed with cancer, recovered but had a relapse. The life and death she has gone through are one of the essential elements that give depth to her art. This year in June, Mori Art Museum in Tokyo is hosting a retrospective on Chiharu Shiota’s works. The exhibition titled The Soul Trembles will showcase a great variety of her works including six pieces of large scale installation art, video documentation of live performances, photography, and painting.