Following on from her two widely acclaimed exhibitions at the Mattress Factory Pittsburgh museum and Art Unlimited Basel in 2013, Japanese artist Chiharu Shiota is returning to Galerie Daniel Templon with her new project named Small Room. The artist has transformed the gallery space with a spectacular installation of hanging suitcases and miniature sculptures in woven thread.

The exhibition’s name, Small Room, refers to the words Franz Kafka wrote in the diary he kept between 1917 and 1919: “Everyone carries a room about inside them.” The visitor is invited to journey through a mental space, as though entering into a brain. At the heart of the exhibition is a huge site-specific installation created from suitcases hanging by red threads. An evocation of the notions of exile and travel, these floating objects have been liberated from their primary purpose and are free to conjure up poetic and ambiguous images for the viewer. They call forth memories and emphasise absences.

A series of small sculptures provide a counterpoint to the installations. Similar to doll’s houses, each has its own small room tucked away inside where all the secrets are kept.

Chiharu Shiota combines performance, body art and installations in a process that places the body at the centre of her sculptural work. She is famed for her vast structures in black and red wool thread that imprison various evocative objects, such as musical instruments, dolls' dresses, shoes and beds. The graphic network that connects the elements invokes the power of interpersonal bonds, the subject's inevitable dependency on her or his roots, the very relationships that are harmed by the individualism of modern Western culture. “The threads are woven together. They become entangled. They tear. They unravel. They are like a mirror of the emotions,” writes Chiharu Shiota.

Born in the Osaka, Japan, in 1972, Chiharu Shiota has been living and working in Berlin since 1997. She studied at Hochschule für Bildende Künste Hamburg and at Universität der Künste Berlin.

In Hamburg, Chiharu Shiota joined Marina Abramovic’s class in the 1990s. Her artistic language was influenced by pioneering artists Louise Bourgeois, Eva Hesse and Ana Mendieta, both in terms of the physical experimentation and focus on the unconscious, and the choice of delicate materials like fabrics and thread, traditionally associated with femininity.

Chiharu Shiota has performed and exhibited her work throughout the world. Over recent years her work has featured in numerous international-level museum exhibitions: Rochester Art Center, MN (USA), Towner Art Center and Walsall New Art Gallery (UK), Manege (Moscow), Museum of Art Kochi (Japan), Casia Asia (Barcelona) and the Gervasuti Foundation in Venice (Italy). Chiharu Shiota designed the set for Matsukaze, one of the highly regarded Japanese Nõ dramas directed by German choreographer, opera director and dancer Sasha Waltz and performed in Brussels at the Théâtre royal de la Monnaie and at the Staatsoper in Berlin in 2011. In 2014, she also designed the stage settings for Tristan und Isolde at the Kiel Opera in Germany. In France, she has created site-specific installations at La Sucrière in Lyon (2012) and Carré d’Art Saint Anne de Montpellier (2013).