Highlights from La Biennale di Venezia: “The Key in The Hand” by Chiharu Shiota

Keys lock and unlock the doors of freedom and knowledge. They hide secrets, protect valuable things, inspire curiosity, and give us the unique access to unknown worlds.

 Berlin-resident Japanese artist Chiharu Shiota uses the keys as a medium that conveys our feelings and memories. The exhibition The Key in The Hand, created by Shiota, for the Japanese Pavilion at the 56th edition of the International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia, investigates the concepts of loss, affection, transmission and discovery. Hanging from an intricate cloud of red yarn, thousands of oxidized keys float above two wooden boats. The boats symbolize two hands catching a rain of memories embodied by the keys pouring down from the ceiling. Each time we use a key, the warmth of our hands leaves an invisible mark upon it. While struggling and working with the hands, the two boats move forward through the huge sea of memory as they collect individual experiences. The boats travel through the history and remote lands, eventually bringing a trace of the multilayered memories that dwell within us to those who are far or have already left this world. The yarn, the boat, the key are tools that help us to form links with other people, connecting each other’s physical and spiritual wounds, dreams and expectations. With great sensitivity, Chiharu Shiota’s installation transcends national, cultural, linguistic, and political contexts, emotionally touching countless visitors from all over the world.


  • Highlights from La Biennale di Venezia: “The Key in The Hand” by Chiharu Shiota

    Article by
    Cecilia Musmeci



    Cecilia Musmeci


    May 9th – November 22th
    Japanese Pavilion, Giardini
    La Biennale di Venezia

    Special Thanks

    La Biennale di Venezia