In Silence

Chiharu Shiota

Curated by Oliver Varenne

In Silence is one of four pieces that form Japanese artist, Chiharu Shiota’s first major Australian exhibition.

The artist set fire to a grand piano in a Hobart street. The artist then spent 10 days spinning a vast cocoon of black thread around what remains of the piano.

Shiota says that ‘the work was a meditation on sound and its absence’.

The piece responds to an incident that occurred when Shiota was nine-years old. She woke in the night to sound of burning timber and ran to wake her parents. The family then watched helplessly as a neighbour’s home burned. Later, Shiota saw the remains of a piano charred and silent in the ashes.

‘I became scared, and quickly ran home,’ she recalls. ‘There I tried to play on my piano. My mother said I should not play at a moment when the house of our neighbour had just been burnt down. But I felt as if my own voice had been burnt, too, and therefore continued to play. I was overcome by silence. Days later, the wind carried the smell of the extinguished fire over to us. I then felt every time I smelled it that the smoke made me lose my voice.’

‘This happened 20 years ago. I always carry this silence within me: deep in my heart. When I try to express it, I lack the necessary words. But the silence lasts. The more I think about it, the stronger it gets. The piano loses its voice, the painter does not paint any more, the musician stops making music. They lose their function, but not their beauty. They even become more beautiful.’

Presented by Detached in association with Mona Foma.

Dates: January 14 to April 3, 2011

Location: Detached, 7 Campbell St.

In Silence  2011 Chiharu Shiota. Curated by Oliver Varenne

In Silence 2011 Chiharu Shiota. Curated by Oliver Varenne