Walking into the gallery space at Muzeum Śląskie that holds Chiharu Shiota’s installation Counting Memories, viewers are immersed in a sea of mismatched, old-fashioned wooden desks and chairs. From each desk, strands of black yarn rise up, tangling together in a dark cloud that consumes the entire upper portion of the high-ceilinged room. And within the cloud of yarn, white numbers are suspended like insects caught in an enormous spider web.
The spacing of the desks provides natural archways for visitors to pass under as they wander through the installation. At each of the nine desks, stacks of paper and pencils are available for viewers to respond to prompts such as “Which number has meaning to you and why?”, “Do numbers tell the truth?”, and “How many memories do you have?” In a statement on the exhibition, Shiota explains:
Each number defines us individually but also connects us universally. Numbers comfort us, we share dates that are important to us, and they help us understand ourselves. Our history is collected through numbers. In this way, the intertwined string reflects our history, while the numbers, which are scattered sporadically like the stars above Katowitz, represent the most meaningful dates we know.
Shiota (previously) is a Japanese artist who lives and works in Berlin. She is renowned for her large-scale installations that incorporate familiar objects embedded within networks of suspended black, white, or red threads. In addition to Counting Memories, which is on view through April 26, 2020 in Katowice, Poland, Shiota’s solo exhibition The Soul Trembles at the Mori Art Museum in Tokyo will be touring Asia until 2021.