Last year the Japanese visual artist Chiharu Shiota used the attention she was getting from an exhibition in Washington D.C. to make an announcement: she had been selected to represent Japan in this year’s Venice Biennial, but she needed help.
In her own words, she needed a “huge number of keys” and was looking for public donations. If anyone sent Shiota one of the 50,000 keys she managed to collect (we were told they wouldn’t be returned) we now know what they had been used for: an installation comprised of a massive web of yarn that suspended the numerous keys from the ceiling.
“Keys are familiar and very valuable things that protect important people and spaces in our lives.,” says Shiota, explaining her project, “The Key in the Hand.” She also notes how, having been used to open doors to the known and, more symbolically, the unknown, old key are like an accumulation of memories. By crowd-sourcing these memories Shiota has created “a rain of memories pouring down from the ceiling” and being caught by two boats that symbolize hands.
“Four monitors will show videos of small children talking about memories from before and immediately after they were born,” says curator Hitoshi Nakano, explaining the space. “By listening to them recounting memories from the time of their birth and looking at keys containing an accumulation of memories, we will experience two different phases of memory in the spaces.”
“The Key in the Hand” just opened to the public over the weekend and will be on display at the Japan Pavilion through November 22, 2015.