Hope is a word that we have all become more familiar with—or perhaps forgotten—in the last year or so. The world has experienced innumerable complications due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Japanese artist Chiharu Shiota sought to create a space that would remind and inspire us to believe again. For a recent exhibition of her art at Berlin’s König Galerie, she created an immersive installation titled I hope… The piece subsumes 10,000 letters that were sent to her from people around the globe, sharing their hopes for the future. The correspondence was then interconnected by thousands of lengths of scarlet thread hanging suspended in the air.
“During this COVID-19 pandemic, it is difficult to think about hope, but imagination for the future is very important for human beings,” Shiota tells My Modern Met. “If you have no inspiration, there is no future. I gave people red paper so they could write their hopes for the future, and then I could fill the gallery with this hope… My theme is existence in the absence. This means, no one is there, but I feel like someone is present. So, when someone dies, I can feel their existence. I want to create this feeling with my installation… I am weaving the memory into existence.”
The threads hung in the nave of St. Agnes, a former church that is now the exhibition space for the König Galerie. “I thought this place was good for hope,” Shiota explains. “Normally people pray for their future in the church, and this place has a lot of hope—it was a good place to do the installation.” Though the exhibition itself was not open to the public for a period due to local restrictions, that didn't stop people from interacting with it. Musicians, dancers, and other performers who are close to the artist were invited to come and perform in the empty installation, and their presentations were streamed online to allow viewers to participate and connect virtually.
The exhibition has now ended, but the moving performance series is still available for viewing on Facebook and Instagram until April 18, 2021. In the meantime, scroll down to see more incredible images of Chiharu Shiota’s moving thread art installation I hope…