EU: SATOAHI FUJIWARA, 2017
“EU” provides an overview of the work of Satoshi Fujiwara (Kobe, Japan, 1984) through photo-assemblages and a wall-scale exhibition design that integrates the photographer’s iconographic lexicon and channels concerns over the context of exhibiting photography in a society that puts images on display every day. The installation originated from one of Fujiwara’s primary influences: the Museum of Modern Art’s 1942 exhibition design for “The Road to Victory: a procession of photographs of the nation at war” directed by Lt. Cmdr. Edward Steichen (appointed by the US Navy), and designed by Austrian-American architect Herbert Bayer. The exhibition was devised as a cover for US military efforts during World War Two, and took place following the attack on Pearl Harbor. Set up was assigned to Bayer, who worked together with the show’s director to devise photo-murals that merged and sublimated military and political documentation with non-linear sequences. Their exhibition design can be considered part of historical display strategies, and amplified and merged major political interventions and their effects into other cultural fields. But despite this, Bayer’s solutions were also somehow incredibly detached from history, and presented clear cuts that today appear incorporated right into graphic design software.
Satoshi Fujiwara’s partial rendition of camera details, his voyeuristic portrayal of human presence, as well as his political scrutiny all amount to an alternative index of journalism and media. It is a photographic practice that haunts today’s incorporated European photography. His “ghosts” come with assumed spatial losses (at least as mitigated news layouts), and flattened dazibao (the historical examples of public information architecture used to broadcast journalism during China’s cultural revolution). Here they are necessary and spatially vulgarized by widespread overexposure, the constant use of image manipulation and video editing software shortcuts: visual impact and deadening effect on the way we look at images.
“EU” is conglomerate of different formats, JPEGs and DPI standards. Non-linear, reduced-narrative installments register inurement to image consumption, as well as less formal contemporary propaganda streams in a moment in history when exhibiting photography and exhibition design have become a mild architectural alias; a flat palliative for organizing and editing images at speeds that are lower and more silent than we are used to when communicating, pitching and neutrally commenting on subjects. It is a spare platform for brings-watching viewers, wider than a monitor, yet with less of a future and far weaker defense strategies.