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Salzkammergut 2024, Where are we now?

Chiharu Shiota, Internal Line, 2019 Chiharu Shiota, Internal Line, 2019 © Bildrecht, Vienna, 2023

As part of the programme of Bad Ischl, European Capital of Culture 2024, an exhibition by Japanese artist Chiharu Shiota, organised with the support of Eu Japan fest, will open on 26 April.

In the tunnels of the former Ebensee concentration camp, references are made to the incomprehensible crimes of National Socialism.

There is an explanatory board at the entrance to the Ebensee concentration camp. You can read information about the prisoners of war who were sent here and what cruel suffering they had to endure until they died or the camp was liberated. However, if you don't read the initial description, it's just a large tunnel. The stone walls are damp and there are puddles of water on the floor. In a place so steeped in history, it is not easy to create a work of art that is worthy of the place.

“In my art I deal with human existence. I use everyday objects such as keys, suitcases and clothes that have been used by people and want to express the memory of their owners' existence.
For the installation, the clothes depict the shape of a body and fill the space with an intangible presence. I have been working with the concept of “presence in absence” for a long time and find it interesting what association the emptiness evokes in visitors. For me, our clothes are like a second skin. Our third skin are the buildings that shield us from the world.
Our clothing has to do with protection, but also standards. Our inner self also contains characteristics that we did not choose. Family, religion, culture, all of these are the boundaries within which we move or decide to break through them. In the installation, the clothes are caught between red ropes that obscure the figures like a mist.

The longer I stand in the Ebensee concentration camp and learn about it, the more I wonder what human existence is all about. What kind of world is this that we live in?

Chiharu Shiota (born 1972) is a Japanese performance and installation artist. Shiota has lived and worked in Berlin, Germany since 1996. Educated in Japan, Australia, and Germany, Shiota interweaves materiality and the psychic perception of the space to explore ideas around the body and flesh, personal narratives that engage with memory, territory, and alienation. Her signature installations, which consist of dazzling, intricate networks of threads stretching across gallery rooms, made the artist rise to fame in the 2000s. Shiota has exhibited worldwide. She made her debut in Japan at the Yokohama Triennale in 2001 with Memory of Skin and represented Japan in the 56th Venice Biennale in 2015.

The exhibition will remain open until 29 September 2024

Other info here