Critics’ Picks

View of “Simon Fujiwara: White Day,” 2016. From left: Ich, 2015; Rebekkah, 2012.

View of “Simon Fujiwara: White Day,” 2016. From left: Ich, 2015; Rebekkah, 2012.


Simon Fujiwara

Tokyo Opera City Art Gallery
3 Chome-20-2 Nishishinjuku
January 16–March 27, 2016

Simon Fujiwara’s exhibition “White Day” showcases a number of his projects from recent years together with archival objects from assorted collections, in a large-scale presentation that seems to want to annihilate the boundary separating creation from curation. An antique mask of Stalin is situated in the same room as a fan made after Japan’s defeat in World War II, from currency used by the Japanese during their wartime occupation of the Philippines. Elsewhere, Fujiwara plays the role of commissioner, as in the series of oil paintings titled “Lactose Intolerance,” 2015, depicting glasses of milk, which he ordered from North Korea’s largest state-run art studio, Mansudae, the irony being that the nation is one of the only in the world that produces no fresh milk.

The centerpiece—and probably Fujiwara’s best-known work to date—is Rebekkah, 2012, a so-called rehabilitation project the artist undertook with a young working-class British woman who was involved in the London riots of 2011. Fujiwara filmed Rebekkah’s trip to China, where, among other activities, she visited a factory where she was able to witness the conditions under which many of the brand-name goods she and her mates looted were actually produced. The trip climaxed with a visit to Xi’an, home of the famous terra-cotta warriors, where Rebekkah herself was cast as a statue. In addition to the film, an army of several dozen terra-cotta Rebekkahs has been installed in the final room’s pristine space. It all goes to show: History, like a precious object, is a thing forged by human hands.