Simon Fujiwara: Three Easy Pieces

Simon Fujiwara: Three Easy Pieces

Simon Fujiwara: Three Easy Pieces presents three immersive installations that reconstitute notions of truth, authenticity, and the credibility of the artist as narrator, leveraging new perspectives on sexuality, globalism, and race and the forces that shape identity.


Simon Fujiwara

Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts
Harvard University, Cambridge, MA
October 23–December 21, 2014

Curated by James Voorhies

Made possible with funding and staff of Harvard University's Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts

Questions about the societal forces that and characterize us are at the heart of Simon Fujiwara’s compelling and deeply engaging practice. In works of art with absorbing narratives that conflate fact and fiction the artist raises questions about gender identity, sexuality, libidinal desire, belonging and racial profiling. Bringing personal experiences into contact with broader historical, social, and political issues, Fujiwara’s exhibitions and projects, such as the three presented in this exhibition, function as theatrical frameworks where players—family members, real-life friends, historical figures—and events cohabit and interact within the very same contexts. 

In Studio Pietà (King Kong Komplex), the artist restages elements remembered from a childhood photograph, now lost. In the photograph, his bikini-clad British mother was held aloft in the arms of a Lebanese boyfriend on a Beirut beach by the Casino du Liban, where she performed as a cabaret dancer. The installation includes the physical evidence and a video of the attempts to recast the lost photograph. Fact and fiction combine into an enthralling process of reconstructing the photograph from personal memory, which leads to inquiries on the relationship between the West and the Middle East, touching on racial profiling, exoticism, and terrorism.

Rehearsal for a Reunion (with the father of pottery) is based on the artist’s trip to Japan to reconnect with his estranged Japanese father through the collective act of making a tea set in a pottery workshop. The installation at the Carpenter Center features artifacts from this experience and a video and raises questions about authenticity, identity, and our innate desire for conclusion.

Letters from Mexico, inspired by the 16th-century Letters from Mexico by conquistador Hernán Cortés, features objects and texts that chronicle Fujiwara’s experiences during a visit to Mexico which coincided with dual celebrations marking its independence from Spain and its revolution. Fujiwara’s letters, translated phonetically by street typists in Mexico City, allude to what is lost in translation as vestiges of colonialism linger in other socioeconomic forms in the relationship between Europe and Mexico.

Born in 1982 in London and currently based in Berlin, Simon Fujiwara has shaped a complex and rich practice that interweaves performance, film, sculpture, and text into highly immersive environmental installations. Bringing personal experiences (both real and imagined) into contact with broader historical, social, and political topics, his expansive practice has been described as an “autobiographical journey through the architecture of modern life—constantly rebuilt as it is retold.”

Simon Fujiwara
Simon Fujiwara studied architecture at Cambridge University and Fine Art at Städelschule in Frankfurt am Main. His work has been presented in group and solo exhibitions at institutions including Tate St. Ives, UK; MoMA, NY; Julia Stoschek Collection, Dusseldorf; Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo; Kunstverein Braunschweig; and SFMoMA, San Francisco. His participation in international biennales includes Venice, (2009), Sao Paulo (2010), Gwangjyu (2012), Shanghai (2012) and Sharjah (2013).

Exhibition Guide with descriptions, gallery plan, program and checklist

Installation photos: Tony Luong