November 15th, 2011 · Nicola Trezzi

Simon Fujiwara's The Boy Who Cried Wolf

As obvious as it seems nowadays, the conception of an artwork that is multilayered, open to possible critiques, not boring and fun is almost a mission impossible. Everything has been done and therefore artists are competing to see who is the most intellectual, the most refined and the most full of references.

When it comes to Simon Fujiwara, all of these questions become poignant. His commission for Performa 11, The Boy Who Cried Wolf, definitely hit the nail on the head: he’s fun, entertaining, conceptual enough- without being too conceptual. With this project he shows the cheesy Fujiwara that is behind the mask of the exotic-chic golden boy of contemporary art.

In The Boy Who Cried Wolf, the story he tells us is in fact a perfect mixture of fiction, reality and self-promotion — part of it is set in the artist's home town of St. Ives, UK, where he will have a solo show in 2012 at the city’s branch of the Tate Museum — all blended with complete lightness.  Without telling much about the plot— which sounds a bit pretentious in this case— I cannot help but think that as much as I enjoyed the project and acknowledged its quality, something is completely wrong.

With his piece, Fujiwara shows us how insular, provincial, self-referential and snobbish the art world can be. The way he treats personal photo material by ‘normal’ people is quite problematic and makes clear of the limits between being fun and being arrogant. Art has always been for the elite and it will always be; there is nothing wrong with that. However, we might analyze why in order to have fun, such an elitist field needs to exploit those who are outside the field. A question that with his project Fujiwara raises a bit too loudly and the visitor doesn’t really get whether this is applause for a decadent system or rather a very pornographic critique of a situation; these cannot be the only options.

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