The Key in the Hand marks, for me, the coming to an end of my exhibition, and a move back to the world of ‘real’ art. I am planning to visit the Venice Biennale later this year so I thought I would start to immerse in the world of the contemporary.
Chiharu Shiota, a resident of Berlin, is one of the foremost installation artists practising today. She represented the Japanese pavilion at Venice in 2015 with this installation of red yarn, keys and two boats.
The Venice Biennale is renowned for large installations so this piece fitted well with the tradition. When I first saw the image I was very worried as my initial reaction was of blood and violence. The artist’s explanation presents a very different picture, however. Although a reminder to all of us of the inevitability and individuality of death, the keys aim to represent our emotional memories. Each key we ever possess becomes full of our memories. These are collected up by the boats, presumably from the underworld, and our memories are passed on for eternal stewardship.
Whatever your views are of the afterlife or next world, Chiharu Shiota is saying our memories continue. I cannot wait to get to Venice and the Biennale and the Japanese Pavilion will be on my list of ‘must sees’.