Via a group of works shown throughout the Foundation's galleries, Simon Fujiwara
addresses the importance within our society of mass media and the fetishisation of the individual experience in an era of new technologies. His practice forms a complex and critical response to the omnipresent need for self-presentation in contemporary society.
The exhibition opens with a unique immersive experience. Empathy I
(2018) was inspired by the artist's experiences of popular leisure sites, from historical tourist attractions such as Neuschwanstein Castle to theme parks such as Disneyland. Closely collaborating with a company that designs theme park rides, Simon Fujiwara has developed his own immersive simulator experience which, rather than dealing with fantasy or historical experiences, brings the viewers into the "real world" by simulating found footage and first person perspective camerawork.
The show continues with the Joanne
series which revolves around a number of large-format photographs and a film. Joanne Salley was Simon Fujiwara's secondary school art teacher who, in 2011, was forced to resign after topless photographs of her were circulated without her permission. The series points to the tabloids' ability to destroy this former beauty queen and, more widely, questions women's image in the mainstream media.
The Happy Museum
was developed in consultation with the artist's brother, Daniel, a "happiness economist" who quantifies social impact as data which companies, governments and NGOs then use to evaluate policy as a means of fostering wellbeing. First produced for the 9th Berlin biennale this ongoing exhibition format assembles diverse objects and artifacts as material manifestations of deep societal contradictions. Fujiwara likens his installation to a news feed, the objects often changing or ‘updating’ with each exhibition of the work.
On the last floor, Likeness
, which Fujiwara has produced specifically for Revolution
, presents a wax figure of Anne Frank produced from an amalgamation of images, sculptures and other wax figures of Anne Frank including the Madame Tussaud’s figure in Berlin. It shows Anne writing her diary at her desk, surrounded by objects referencing her hiding place. Eternally fragile, frozen in time, she turns to smile at the public. How much of a likeness the figure is unknown, given the few documents available to the wax sculpture production team who are former employees of Madame Tussaud’s. Taking to the extreme this irresistible need for image production – already evidenced by endless streams of selfie-taking museum visitors -, Simon Fujiwara uses a Bolt camera robot to film the wax Anne Frank, scrutinized in a near forensic manner. As a choreographer of images, he explores the camera's ability to surround, document and dramatise the figure with disconcerting precision. Like a counterpoint to the Lafayette Anticipations machine-building, Likeness
foretells of a mechanised world in which the notion of a collective memory clashes with the cold and invasive objectivity of moves once performed by humans.