The iconic Smithsonian, Washington D.C. has been blanketed with bright red yarn. The entrance gates, light poles, benches and guide ropes leading to the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery have been “yarnbombed,” or wrapped under webs of yarn, to promote the Gallery’s new exhibition, Perspectives: Chiharu Shiota. Under the cover of darkness on 28 August, over 120 knitting enthusiasts from the Washington area arranged the “yarnbomb” with more than 6 miles of fire proof yarn. It will remain in place until the morning of Tuesday 2 September.
The Sackler Gallery’s Perspectives series has been ongoing since 2003 and highlights provocative and critically acclaimed contemporary Asian artists. Past names have included Xu Bing, Anish Kapoor, Do Ho Suh and Ai Weiwei. The latest installation, on show until 7 June 2015, is by Chiharu Shiota who will represent Japan at the 2015 Venice Biennale.
The Japanese performance artist’s installation focuses on shoes; an object not always thought of as art. She is known for her monumental use of everyday objects in installations, which have previously included the burnt shell of a piano and a wedding dress, transformed through web-like constructions of thread. Her current show at the Sackler Gallery fills the room with more than 350 shoes collected by the artist, along with handwritten notes describing the former wearer or a memory attached to them and encased in a multitude of red threads, attached at a single point. It is an emotionally charged exhibition that represents Shiota’s emotions and sensations, and evokes memory, loss and anxiety.
“Shoes are an intimate part of the body,” says curator Carol Huh. “They’re a prosthesis for the feet—they aren’t really noticed much when they’re active—but gain a different presence without the body in them. They take on a life of their own.”