The Soul Trembles GOMA Exhibition Review

Doll's furniture sits on a white platform and each piece is connected with red thread

Memories, anxiety, dreams and silence are some of the themes addressed by Japanese-born, Berlin-based artist Chiharu Shiota in her impressive exhibition, ‘The Soul Trembles’, at the Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA).

Now open, the spectacular, large-scale works are exclusive to GOMA, and represent almost 30 years of the artist’s work, some of which were influenced by the artist’s time in Australia as an exchange student.

As well as the large-scale installations, there is sculpture, video performance, photography, drawing and set design – demonstrating the breadth and depth of Shiota’s talents. 

A mass of red thread creates arches for people to walk through that look like a spider's web.

The exhibition, which encompasses the entire ground floor of GOMA, also feature’s the artist’s trademark red and black threads, which weave their way through all of her work, sometimes shrouding them, sometimes connecting them, and always offering another layer of meaning.

Kids of all ages will enjoy trying to work out where the threads start and finish, and may like to attempt to recreate the works on a smaller scale at home.

White String boats are suspended from the ceiling, surrounded by long black threads that obscure the view.   Highlights of the exhibition include Uncertain Journey and Where are we going? (both pictured above).  The works tell the story of her life and artistic journey, and the first artwork on display is a simple painting by five-year-old Shiota. There are also interesting depictions of her time spent fighting a cancer diagnosis, as well as windows into other aspects of her life.

These provocative works can open up plenty of avenues of discussion for older kids and teens. For younger children, they will simply enjoy studying the intriguing works from all angles.

Lots of dolls house pieces and trinkets are arranged on a white table and connected with red thread

Children will enjoy the intricacies of “Connecting Small Memories” (pictured above), which offers quite a contrast from Shiota’s bigger works. This may just seem like a collection of tiny trinkets but it offers just as much wow factor as the other artworks on display. The only problem is ensuring that little hands resist touching all the little things!  

The exhibition continues at GOMA until 3 October 2022.

A table and chairs with drawing pencils for kids sits in front of a wall featuring a quote by artist Chiharu Shiota

Children’s Art Centre: A Feeling

Within the children’s art centre, on the same level as The Soul Trembles exhibition, is ‘A Feeling’, which allows children to express their thoughts on Chiharu Shiota’s work. Kids are encouraged to explore their own emotions and think about the concept of their soul, and what it means to them. To do this, they can watch a video showing other children explaining their varied interpretations of what the soul means.

They can also read books that explore similar themes or create their own drawing about how they feel, using coloured pencils. This can then be added to a web of red threads as a cumulative display. Chiharu Shiota herself has contributed two drawings to the display. The children’s art centre installation is free and is separate from the ticketed exhibition.

Tickets can be purchased at www.qagoma.qld.gov.au, with a newly introduced youth ticket price for visitors aged 13 to 17. Family tickets are also available. The Gallery of Modern Art is located at Stanley Place, South Brisbane. 

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