Between the lines of Chiharu Shiota

“Our life is like a journey but we cannot see the final destination” / Chiharu Shiota

I did feel I was searching for the line. You know? Those days in which your inner-world is blurry, and you feel slightly disoriented. Perfect occasion for heading to the museum.

We took the train to s’Hertogenbosch, Jan and me. We had seen pictures of Chiharu Shiota’s “Uncertain Journey” on Instagram and now we couldn’t miss the opportunity of seeing it live. This installation, we learned, was made especially for Het Noordbrabantsmuseum, and it was the first exhibit of the Japanese artist in The Netherlands.



The installation was already impressive on the picture. Being there was one of those experiences that allows you to look at the bigger picture of the ‘uncertain journey’ we all share: life. Seeing how people interacted with the piece was self-explanatory of its impact. The public was ecstatic, at times frantically photographing the thing from all possible angles, at times standing still, in deep awe. It was as though one’s inner struggles had been made tangible – in a long, long thread of around 2000 balls of red wool, which formed a huge web stocked with staples to the white walls. The human condition made visible for us to contemplate.

Art piece on the left: “In the hand”





Red is my colour of comfort. That might help explain why I had the feeling I could have stayed forever under the shelter of what was for me a sky of interconnection (the artist calls it an ocean). The whole of one’s deepest experiences, with the complexity of emotions, the seemingly meaningless moments, the passage of time, it was all intertwined in that intense cloud of red lines. Such deeply personal insights I got in that room and, at once, the realisation of how universal as well. We are in the same boat, after all.

Upper left corner: “State of being” | Lower left corner: “Traces of life”

There was also a retrospective of the artist’s body of work on display (1994 – 2017). This is how a museum of a small Dutch city brought thousands of new visitors to Den Bosch. How Instagram can be the stimulus to meaningful offline experiences. How art can be an important factor of development of a region. How an art piece can lighten one’s burdens – in between the lines -.


And then I grabbed the camera and made a photo of the photographer. Thank you, Jan, for the photo-report.

I will keep a close eye on the program of Het Noordbrabantsmuseum. That’s a resolution.

Want to read more stories? You can follow Amsterdive on Facebook for all updates. Note: I have been doing daily Instagram stories on adventures (and nonsense), which you can check out here.

3 thoughts on “Between the lines of Chiharu Shiota

  1. sarmaweb

    The greatest paradox is that our journey is never ending. But we don’t know when it would end nor aware when it began. We shall meet and discuss and share the joys and agonies of life and move forward

    1. Amsterdive

      I am going to try visiting interesting exhibitions earlier on so that I can recommend them to my readers – not 3 days before they’re over, like I did with this one 😉

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