“56th Venice Biennale International Art Exhibition” Report Part 1

「第56回ヴェネチア・ビエンナーレ国際美術展」レポート 第1弾

“Japan Pavilion Chiharu Shiota “The Key in the Hand” – Opening! Interview with Chiharu Shioda & Hitoshi Nakano”

The memory of the key, connected by a red thread

56th Venice Biennale International Art Exhibition Japan Pavilion exhibition view (exhibition room)
56th Venice Biennale International Art Exhibition Japan Pavilion exhibition view (exhibition room)
56th Venice Biennale International Art Exhibition Japan Pavilion exhibition view (exhibition room)
56th Venice Biennale International Art Exhibition Japan Pavilion exhibition view (exhibition room)

--First of all, looking back from the day you decided to participate in the Venice Biennale to today's pre-opening, please tell us about the most memorable interaction or incident during your collaboration.

Shioda : “A collaboration between two people” (lol)?
Nakano : That's...it's the last week after all, right? But this might turn out to be a pretty deep story (lol).
Shioda : ...There are just so many things I can't say (lol).

――I would appreciate it if you could answer with the assumption that some people will read it in the afternoon (lol).

Shioda : Not that way, not that way (lol)! Both are married and have children...
Nakano : (lol)...Even before the decision was made, we had a lot of intense contact over Skype over a short period of time, but after the decision was made, the first thing we did was collect the keys.

--The initial goal was to get 50,000 keys, but did you collect them quickly?

Shioda : We didn't get together right away.
Nakano : Gradually. We collaborated with locksmith associations and companies in Japan and Italy. Also, at KAAT Kanagawa Arts Theater, where I am currently enrolled.
Shioda : When a locksmith makes a new key, the customer leaves behind the old key. I asked him to keep the key instead of throwing it away. Also, the Japan Foundation of Japan, Germany, and Italy, the Kochi Prefectural Museum of Art, Marugame City Genichiro Inokuma Museum of Contemporary Art in Kagawa, the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa, Kyoto Art Center, Kyoto Seika University, the National Museum of Art in Osaka, and the National Museum of Art in Nagoya and Tokyo. We received cooperation from the Kenji Taki Gallery, which has an art gallery, as well as art museums in the United States and Europe. Many of the keys we collect come with letters containing anecdotes related to the keys, and all of these letters are carefully stored in our atelier.

--What was written in that letter?

Shioda : A person whose mother suffers from dementia repeatedly lost her keys, so she made them every time, and her son passed away while on a trip to Hokkaido. Keys etc. that I collected while I was there. There were all kinds of keys and anecdotes.

--In our last interview, we heard that the starting point of this exhibition was the death of someone close to you. Also, in the exhibition proposal, Nakano stated that this work confronts the fate of us humans, "life" and "death." In "Infinity" (a new work at the Espace Louis Vuitton Paris "Red Thread" exhibition), which was created in France just before Venice, light flashes like a heartbeat in a tunnel of black threads, making us think of souls heading to the underworld and the stars in the universe that are still reflected in our eyes even after their actual form has disappeared.

Chiharu Shiota《Infinity》2015

Chiharu Shiota《Infinity》2015 Photo courtesy of Espace Louis Vuitton Paris © Adagp, Paris 2015 Photography by Pauline Guyon

--You mentioned earlier that some of the keys that the deceased had were included, and in the exhibition room, these keys seemed to be tied to a red thread and released into the future. . Please tell us again about the thoughts you put into the act of actually touching the 180,000 old keys that you ended up collecting and connecting them with the red thread.

Shioda : This exhibition made us think about the various meanings that keys have. Having the key is synonymous with having the opportunity. Once you get the key, you can open a door that connects you to a different world than the one in front of you. It's an opportunity to take your future into your own hands. On the other hand, losing your keys can mean losing part of your life. The key is closely connected to each person's life, and at the same time, its shape itself is made up of a large head and a small body, and it can be seen as an individual person. I thought there was a red thread to connect them. The red thread is the key, which connects people, and the memory of the key, which is the memory of people.

--The theme of "future" also resonates with the overall theme of "All the World's Futurs" set by Okwui Enwezor, general director of this year's Venice Biennale.

Nakano : In recent years, Japan has suffered from the Tohoku earthquake and the nuclear power plant accident, but when we look back at human history, we human beings have the wisdom to deal with not only natural disasters such as smallpox and plague since ancient times, but also difficulties such as these epidemics. I got through it with (Eichi). That's why I wanted to work with Chiharu to take on the challenge of using art as an expression, based on the universal human themes of ``life'' and ``death,'' and also looking toward the ``future'' that we will entrust to our children. On the pilotis downstairs, in front of the box-shaped temporary wall, there is a photo of a child's palm holding a key. Behind the scenes is a video work titled ``How Did You Come into this World?'' in which children talk about what they remember from before they were born, when they were in their mothers' wombs. '' is shown on four monitors, which not only shows that these people are the ones who have been entrusted with the keys to the future by their predecessors, but also that they are the ones who have a social role in the future. The content makes us think about the responsibility we have.

Shioda : But this concept and the theme of Enviso happened to be connected.

Nakano : It just happened, sorry (lol) His theme was announced last fall.

A “monster” living in Venice? “Art Olympics” and its scene

56th Venice Biennale International Art Exhibition Japan Pavilion exhibition view (piloti)
56th Venice Biennale International Art Exhibition Japan Pavilion exhibition view (piloti)

56th Venice Biennale International Art Exhibition Japan Pavilion installation view (piloti)

――After being selected as representatives, the two of you visited the 14th Venice Biennale International Architecture Exhibition last year right after it opened, and closely observed the architectural structure of the Japan Pavilion.

Nakano : As with the previous exhibitions I created with Chiharu-san, we decided on the structure of the exhibition by considering the nature of the existing building and space without changing the characteristics of the exhibition room. I also think it's important for both contemporary artists and curators to not just show things, but to be able to show what kind of story they can tell, or to be able to project contemporary issues.

--How many times did you visit the venue before taking on the challenge of installing your work?

Shioda : I used to come almost every month. It takes less than 2 hours by plane from Berlin each way, so you can come as a day trip. In addition to meetings, I also came at my own expense. Since I use space, I have to get used to the space, and I have to think over and over again about where and how I should place things so that when people enter the space, what I want to convey will be conveyed instantly. I tried it. There is a difference between making a model and making a work on site.

Nakano : I have been there three times: at the opening of the architecture exhibition, at a technical meeting in January of this year, and at the installation of the work in April. At the time of this installation, we made final adjustments with the artist, checking the impression, flow line, and viewpoint. Including this opening, there are 4 times in total.

Shioda : During the last week of production, we closed off the venue so that no one could enter except myself, one assistant, and Mr. Nakano. My assistant is someone I've been working with for 16 years, so I can work with ease. I don't want anyone to join me except her. Otherwise, I couldn't concentrate on production. Unlike museums and galleries, there are a lot of people coming in and out.

Nakano : I mainly work outside, and occasionally come back to the venue and exchange my thoughts, saying, ``It's not like that, it's not like that.'' Because the artist spends all his time working in the exhibition room, there are things that are visible and things that are not. At that time, from my position as a curator, I can offer a different perspective than that of an artist.

--Have you ever had a conflict of opinion in a closed space?

Shioda : No, it wasn't.

Nakano : ``Chiharu-san, in order for this key to be related to this interval, the width here needs to be a little wider, right?'' and ask the question calmly. This is the real thrill of collaboration between artists and curators.

――I think it was during the installation period, but you mentioned on Facebook that artists and curators who had exhibited at the Japan Pavilion told you, ``There are monsters in Venice.'' But were there any “monsters”?

Shioda : I was there (lol)

Nakano : The Venice Biennale is the so-called ``Olympics of art,'' where pavilions from all over the world compete for awards. On the other hand, while I was asking and answering questions about what determines victory or defeat in art, what constitutes success and what counts as 100 points, and that it doesn't matter, I was unconsciously overwhelmed by the tension of standing on that stage. He says he presses the accelerator harder than usual. It was that kind of "monster", now that I think about it...

Shioda : It's not a stage where the winner is guaranteed to win, and there are some writers who put too much effort into it and end up collapsing on their own.

Nakano : What's important is the amount, not just a lot, but how to get it down to the right amount, but if the engine is running at full throttle, you'll end up overdoing it, or you won't be able to see it.

Shioda : Ms. Uematsu (Yuka Uematsu, curator of the 54th Art Exhibition's Japan Pavilion ``Tabaimo: Tereko Soup'') also said, ``In Venice, subtraction is important, not addition.'' I told him to think about what he wanted to show the most and trim it down.

Nakano : I previously wrote in the catalog for the exhibition ``From Silence,'' but she said, ``Chiharu Shiota does not add black threads to an empty space, but rather subtracts black from the pitch-black darkness.'' I reviewed the works of This idea of ``pulling'' is very Japanese, and this time I realized that it is also connected to the Zen idea of Kamakura Buddhism, which involves meditating and throwing something away.

From Kanagawa to Venice - Future prospects and those who will open the door to the Japan Pavilion from now on

--After Venice, please tell us about the new work or exhibition you would like to work on next.

Shioda : Keys are a very profound material, so I would like to continue creating works using keys in the future.

Nakano : I would like to do something with Chiharu Shiota, who attracted attention at an exhibition at the Kanagawa Kenmin Hall Gallery and has grown a lot since then, such as holding another exhibition in Kanagawa.

--This is something MAGCUL.NET's readers and editorial staff can't wait to see.

Nakano : I don't have any plans yet, but I hope that I can make it happen together with the artist. For readers of MAGCUL.NET, those who attended the ``1st Yokohama Triennale'' in which Chiharu participated in 2001 and the largest solo exhibition ``From Silence'' (2007) held at the Kanagawa Kenmin Hall Gallery. I think there are some. Starting from Kanagawa, and going through various efforts by subsequent artists, we have today's Venice. First of all, I would like you to come to Venice and see our exhibition, which has grown and matured in Kanagawa, during the exhibition period until November.

--I believe that among our readers there are young Japanese writers and curators who will be representing the Japan Pavilion at the Venice Biennale in the future. Could you please give me a final word as the "key" to hand over to them?

Shioda : It was a great honor to have the opportunity to exhibit at the Japan Pavilion in Venice, and when it was decided, I was glad I had come this far. Rather than doing something special at the Japan Pavilion, I was able to work on it while thinking that it would be fine to do what I had always done. So, I can't really give advice, but I think it's important to keep creating works. Also, maybe meeting the curator? I don't think it's possible to suddenly take on a stage like Venice with someone you've never worked with before, so I think it's important to let as many curators see and get to know your work. I kept in contact with Mr. Nakano between exhibitions, so I was able to say my selfish things (lol).

Nakano : Young writers and curators always look at themselves, know where they stand, and then take an interest in fields that are completely opposite to their own interests or are in a different world, and look at themselves anew from there. I would like you to do something to fix it. Physics, religious studies, anything is fine. I believe that by having another strength in addition to art and gaining a broader perspective, you will be able to create and discover works that can be presented to society. I also want young artists to grow together with young curators while creating exhibitions.

Chiharu Shiota
Born in Osaka in 1972. Lives in Berlin.
Confronting the fundamental human issues of life and death, we explore ``what is life'' and ``what is existence?'' while focusing on large-scale installations, using a variety of techniques such as three-dimensional sculpture, photography, and video. Produce works using.
Received the Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology's Newcomer's Art Encouragement Award for her solo exhibition "From Silence" (2007) at the Kanagawa Kenmin Hall Gallery.
His major solo exhibitions include the Smithsonian Museum's Arthur M. Sackler Gallery (Washington DC/2014), Mattress Factory (Pittsburgh/2013), Kochi Museum of Art (2013), Marugame Genichiro-Inokuma Museum of Contemporary Art (Kagawa/2012), Casa Asia (Barcelona/2012), and the National Museum of Art, Osaka (Osaka/2008). He has also participated in numerous international exhibitions, including the Kiev International Biennale of Contemporary Art, Setouchi Triennale, Aichi Triennale, Moscow Biennale, Seville Biennale, Gwangju Biennale, and Yokohama Triennale. http://www.chiharu-shiota.com/

Hitoshi Nakano
Curator of Kanagawa Arts Foundation. Born in Kanagawa Prefecture in 1968.
Completed master's course at Keio University Graduate School of Aesthetics and Art History.
The main projects for the performing arts include the musical poetry play Ikutagawa Monogatari – based on the Noh "Guzuka" (Sosaku Gendai Noh, 2004, Kanagawa Prefectural Music Hall), Alma Mahler and the artists of the end of the century in Vienna (Music and Art , 2006, same), John Cage's 100th Birthday: Time and Space Conflicting (Music/Dance, 2011, Kanagawa Kenmin Hall Gallery). Contemporary art exhibitions include Chiharu Shiota's "From Silence" (2007, Kanagawa Kenmin Hall Gallery), Kento Koganezawa's "Between This and That" (2008, same), and "Everyday/Out of Place" (2009). "Port of Design." Katsumi Asaba Exhibition (2009, 2010, same), Izumi Taro Exhibition "Kneading" (2010, same), "Daily Life/With Reasons" Exhibition (2011, same) , Hiraki Sawa's exhibition "Whirl" (2012, same), "Everyday/Off the Record" exhibition (2014, KAAT Kanagawa Arts Theater), Ryota Yagi's exhibition "Science/Fiction" (2015, Kanagawa Kenmin Hall Gallery), and other installations. Planning and producing collaborations between works and performing arts. Researcher at the Art Resource Management Institute. Part-time lecturer at Tokai University and Joshibi University of Art and Design.

▷ The Japan Foundation Venice Biennale Japan Pavilion website

Report writer: Mami Iida (art historian)

Official site

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