Simon Fujiwara - Winner of 2010
Simon Fujiwara traces his own biography in his texts, installations and performances. The assemblages created by this artist, writer and architect probe the historical, political and sociological parameters of the past. The complexity of these relations is demonstrated in the work on view at Art Statements, Welcome to the Hotel Munber, in which Fujiwara stages the life of his parents during the Franco era. Diverse allusions to the brutal sexual oppression of that regime are played out behind the deceptively harmless façade of a Spanish bar.
The donation to Hamburger Kunsthalle – Letters from Mexico (2011) – occupies one of the largest galleries in the exhibition. According to Fujiwara, “Everything starts as a text,” and this installation is no exception. He took the work’s title from the sixteenth-century text Letters from Mexico, penned over seven years by the Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés, who led an expedition that resulted in the fall of the Aztec Empire. Following Cortés’s example, Fujiwara recounts his own experiences in a series of eight letters, addressed to “Europe,” lining the gallery perimeter. The letters are at first enthusiastic, eventually disintegrating into disenchantment with the country’s social inequalities. Fujiwara’s letters outline his intentions to write an erotic novel set in Mexico during the bicentennial of the nation’s independence, addressing the country’s sexual revolution, and ultimately concluding with the author’s death. Letters from Mexico incorporates several objects relating to Mexican heritage and culture that refer to both pre- and post-colonization. As a European working with distinctly Mexican objects and artifacts, Fujiwara critically evokes the colonial relationship between his home continent and host country.