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Perspectives: Chiharu Shiota

Shoe Notes

Chiharu Shiota often revisits the concept of a work each time it is installed in a new space. She collected shoes in Poland for a precursor to Over the Continents, titled Dialogue from DNA. Feeling a sense of distance from the work, Shiota collected shoes again when she was invited to create an installation in Japan, this time requesting notes describing a memory associated with each shoe. Gathering together nearly 4,000 shoes and more than 1,000 notes, most of them handwritten, the work became more intimate. Reading each message allowed Shiota to imagine more vividly the lives of the shoes and their owners.

A selection of the notes on view in this installation have been translated from Japanese and made available here. The Freer|Sackler is grateful to Mariko Ikehara, members of the Washington Japanese Women's Network (Mai Tanaka Sahker and Noriko Garofalo), Robin Berrington, and Yumi Shintani for their translation services.

The Freer is closed for renovation and reopening in 2017. The Sackler remains open, with a full lineup of exhibitions and events both in the museum and around DC.