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Te Papa unveils Chiharu Shiota Web of Time

The installation will be on display for a year and will become part of Te Papa’s permanent collection. Rosa Woods, Stuff. View video here.

Mandy Te, Two-storey immersive installation ‘Web of Time’ opens at Te Papa Toi Art, Stuff, 14 December 2020

People immersing themselves in Chiharu Shiota’s art installation stood quietly in awe as they took in the web of black wool and numbers that hung all around.

More than 3700 balls of black wool made up the installation – roll it all out, it’s 355 kilometres of thread.

Award-winning Japanese artist Chiharu Shiota’s​ The Web of Time was unveiled at Te Papa on Saturday. The installation would be up for a year and would remain part of Te Papa’s permanent collection, which meant it could be re-staged and shown again in the future.

This is the first time Shiota has brought this installation to New Zealand.

While it took her two weeks to create the installation, and 14 days for a team of 15 to set it up at the Wellington museum, the idea for the project took two years.

The Web of Time is the fourth installation commissioned for Te Papa’s Threshold gallery.

“How many people have died from Covid-19 and how many people are being born? We’re always counting numbers, but numbers have no meaning,” Shiota said.

“Human beings give meaning to numbers.”

And humans were always looking for meaning too, she said, describing the black threads as offering an idea of connection, a memory system, and the universe.

More than 3700 balls of black wool made up the installation by Chiharu Shiota. Rosa Woods, Stuff.

Te Papa curator of contemporary art Nina Tonga believed the installation would resonate with audiences.

“It’s an uncertain time to connect with artists, so I’m so thrilled and really honoured to work with Chiharu,” Tonga said.

The idea of connection that stemmed from the installation was something that people treasured emotionally and spiritually, and something the work would make people think about.

Te Papa’s Head of Art Charlotte Davy said the museum was thrilled to showcase this exhibit, which is built over two levels.

It took two weeks to create the installation, which is built across the levels. Rosa Woods, Stuff.

“Shiota is a world-class artist known for transforming spaces with her wondrous, thought-provoking installations. We are thrilled to exhibit The Web of Time in Te Papa’s Toi Art, and give New Zealanders the opportunity to experience this remarkable work.”

The Web of Time is the fourth installation commissioned forTe Papa’s Threshold gallery, following Michael Parakowhai’s Détour (2018), Nike Savvas’ Finale: Bouquet (2019-2020), and Lemi Ponifaso’s MAU: House of Night and Day (2020).

See also: Chiharu Shiota: The web of time