18th February – 6th March 2021
Anna Schwartz Gallery
Simon Fujiwara’s work can be seen as a response to the cultural obsession with self-presentation that new technologies provoke in individuals. His film Joanne (2016 – 2018) is a portrait of the artist’s former secondary school art teacher, Joanne Salley. The video depicts the many faces of Joanne and addresses issues around representations of women in the age of social media, tabloid press and consumerism.
Salley, winner of the 1998 Miss Northern Ireland beauty pageant, artist, teacher and champion boxer had a formative influence on Fujiwara, nurturing his creative talents as a scholarship student at the prestigious Harrow School for boys. Some years after his departure, Salley found herself at the centre of a damaging tabloid scandal after students discovered and circulated topless photographs of her that had been taken privately. The media campaign that followed played on stereotypes of women to support the sensational headlines, tarnishing her reputation as a teacher and public persona.
Five years on, Fujiwara and Salley embarked on the production of a short film that explores the issues she faced in the wake of the scandal, to present a more complex picture of her. In the course of the film, viewers follow the pair as they meet with professionals from fashion, advertising and PR who advise them along their journey. Employing various media – from iPhone videos released on Instagram and other social media platforms, to high-end fashion photographs – they orchestrate a new public image for ‘Joanne’.
The film is accompanied in the gallery space by a large-scale light-box, featuring images of Joanne created in collaboration with acclaimed fashion photographer Andreas Larsson. The exhibition examines commonly used marketing strategies that construct and shape the contemporary iconography of women. Nuanced by the longstanding personal relationship between artist and muse, Fujiwara’s film offers an unconventional portrait that seemingly unmasks a complex and multifaceted person whose public identity has been defined by a single, unauthorised image.
Simon Fujiwara (b. 1982, UK) is known for his autobiographical explorations of identity and sexuality. His complex installations incorporate sculpture, performance, video and photographic elements to create fully imagined scenarios that underscore the interdependence of personal history and more universal narratives. Fujiwara studied Architecture at Cambridge University from 2002 to 2005, and then Fine Art at the Städelschule Hochschule für Bildende Kunst in Frankfurt am Main from 2006 to 2008. He participated in several recent biennials including the Venice Biennale, 2009; Manifesta 8 and São Paulo Biennial in 2010; Singapore Biennial, Manchester International Festival and Performa, New York, all 2011; Sharjah Biennial, 2013; Istanbul Biennial, 2019. He held recent solo exhibitions at Galeries Lafayette Corporate Foundation, 2018; Kunsthalle Düsseldorf, 2016; Irish Museum of Modern Art, 2016; Tate St. Ives, 2012; and the Stoschek Collection, Düsseldorf, 2010.
Presented by Photo Australia for PHOTO 2021
Supported by the British Council