Simon Fujiwara’s cartoon bear questions identity


I was struck by something you said in an interview a few years ago when you said you didn’t want to take a political position. Would you say the same today?
I have always had a contradictory position on this point. I believe that taking a stand is necessary, it’s the only way for things to change, for the violence to stop, it’s the only way for people to express a point of view and all that is good about it. world comes from there. I think in my work it’s pretty clear. I grew up in a white world in a small town where I was the only non-white gay boy and I was given that identity, but I didn’t want to stay locked in it all my life. There is more that I can show about myself and I don’t want my art to be limited to this story. My job is not to be an educator and to become a symbol of this identity. I don’t want to become an object, I want to be more than that.

Everyone has the option of having more than one identity, right?
Yes, but different identities have more possibilities to be more things. Straight white men are more likely to be different things than straight white women, right? If we take this as an example, we can extend it to many other identities in the way things are viewed and mediated. With my work, I want to be able to have more freedom, to go beyond my individuality precisely because my individuality is linked to politics.

What do you think of the pandemic, a year after the lockout that led you to this work of “Who the bær”?
I think I will continue to work on this. It’s a tool, it’s not even a character, it’s a lens for looking at the world through, a world of images. I grew up in a really dead and poor place where pictures were the only way to imagine a bigger world. I grew up online, the pictures were almost a fetish to me. And as an adult, I try to take a stand on how to read the pictures. What I learned growing up is that these pictures are a mirage, but this way of enjoying pictures has accelerated so much that now we all live like this, whereas when I was young it seemed to me. a unique experience.

Marketing gurus say influencers are done, what do you think?
I don’t know if this is a phenomenon that will last another year or ten, but that’s not the problem, is that we are looking for new ways to sell ourselves. We sell everything, our behavior, our attention. I think this trend is not changing, the way it manifests may change, but the trend is not changing. We are entering a new marketing era that sells a new colonialism.

Do you think people won’t react, that things will just be taken as they are?
I am a hopeless person, that’s why I have to make bears! I keep observing the world and thinking about what I do best: connect all this madness and put it in one place. Take a deep breath and watch what is. This is what I can offer.

What is the link between your history and the art market?
Why are you asking me this question?

Because I think an artist has to deal with that too. There are a lot of good artists who are not reaching the market.
Not good enough and not as young as me! I started working at the age of 26, then won two awards in the same year at two exhibitions, Art Basel and Frieze Art Fair in 2010.

You have lived in different places, which have influenced your life and your worldview. Is there a place you would like to put down roots?
I always thought you had to like the place where you live. When I got to Berlin I resisted the city, then I gave up on this idea and decided that I didn’t have to like this place, I just had to live here, and now I love it . I don’t think I would live anywhere else even though I like damp places, I like humidity. I think it’s because of my early years living in Japan, I remember those hot and humid summers. I love it because it seems like it breaks the barriers between body and objects, you sweat and lose control of your body, a dream dimension. It’s a daydream, but I wouldn’t go back to Japan, it’s too closed, mono-cultural.


About Harold Hartman

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