January 6, 2017 - Kunsthalle Düsseldorf - Samson Young: A dark theme keeps me here, I'll make a broken music / Simon Fujiwara: Figures in a Landscape
January 6, 2017

Kunsthalle Düsseldorf

Samson Young, Stanley (detail), 2014. Neon, sand. Courtesy Galerie Gisela Capitain. Photo: Katja Illner.

Samson Young: A dark theme keeps me here, I'll make a broken music
Simon Fujiwara: Figures in a Landscape
December 16, 2016–March 5, 2017

Kunsthalle Düsseldorf
Grabbeplatz 4
40213 Düsseldorf

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Samson Young: A dark theme keeps me here, I'll make a broken music
Kunsthalle Düsseldorf presents the first institutional solo show in Europe by the Hong Kong based artist Samson Young (*1979). Young is a sound artist and composer. He studied music, philosophy, and gender studies at the University of Sydney and has a doctorate in composition from Princeton University. In 2017 the artist will be featured in the Hong Kong pavilion at the Venice Biennale.

From the perspective of a composer, Young conceives sound works, installations, performances, drawings, sound walks, and films. His works usually make concrete historical and social references and often deal with conflicts. Each of his projects involves a great deal of background and field research. His work is motivated by scientific precision and conceptual rigor. The result is a very powerful and aesthetically expressive language.

The importance of the aesthetic investigation of sound in Young’s work is illustrated above all by his journeys, which follow in the tradition of sound walks and field recordings. For instance, for his work For Whom the Bell Tolls: A Journey into the Sonic History of Conflicts (2015–), he traveled to five continents to visit historically significant bells and record their sound. The result was an archive of bell sounds, which Young will use to compose a new piece.

While he was at the various locations waiting for the bells to ring, he created a series of drawings entitled "Landschaft" (on view here on the first floor). In these “sound drawings” the artist translates the noises of his environment and the ringing of the bells into musical notation. His works represent an unusual contribution within the complex relationship between music and visual art and open up new perspectives for the perception of sounds as well as pictures.

The Kunsthalle Düsseldorf is showing a selection of works from Samson Young’s oeuvre on three floors. Along with the series "Muted Situation" (2014)—directions for listening to sound situations in a new way or perceiving the political qualities of sound itself—and a selection of works from the series "Sound Drawings" (2015–), the exhibition also features large-scale installations in which Young deals with conflicts and wars.

The exhibition is curated by Jasmina Merz.


Simon Fujiwara: Figure in a Landscape
The exhibition at the Kunsthalle Düsseldorf is the first major solo show by the British-Japanese artist Simon Fujiwara (*1982) at a museum in Germany, where he has lived for ten years. The question of the construction and representation of identity, history, and stories is a central element in Fujiwara’s oeuvre, which includes both video and performance works as well as sculptures.

Like an anthropologist of our time, he examines the things that surround us on a daily basis and brings the fictional in the supposedly factual to light with an impressive incisiveness. To this end, the artist adapts often dominant pictorial conventions and aesthetics from areas such as marketing and advertising, pop culture, and social media, only to undermine them from the inside or reveal the ambivalences inherent in them through subtle alterations. Fujiwara is distinguished by the fact that he not only reflects what we see, but continually reminds us of the blind spot in our perception by focusing on processes and modes of production in the media on which these images are based.

With Figures in a Landscape, the artist focuses on processes of the formation of identity and our attempts to situate ourselves and others—whether socially and culturally, politically, economically, or ethically. The relevance of a gaze that can be both familiar and distanced is evident in the works—among them Ich (2015), Hello (2015) and Masks (Merkel) (2016)—collected here.

Fujiwara’s most recent work is dedicated to a woman and her public perception: Joanne (2016) sensitively and pointedly deals not only with role models for modern women, but also with the question of the extent to which we have control over our own image or can be influenced by an image that is imposed on us from the outside.

Although visitors seem to come extremely close to the characters and people whom they encounter in the exhibition landscape—physically as well as through their personal stories—our knowledge of them ultimately remains vague. The works demand an active engagement with the problems of viewing images of people and reveal a representational paradox in which the viewer is only made aware of a potential reality lurking behind the image through experiencing a cropped, edited and highly controlled depiction. Unavoidably, the respective environment also has an influence as a “landscape” in which a person is embedded and from which it can only be separated with difficulty.

The exhibition is curated by Anna Lena Seiser.

Kunsthalle Düsseldorf
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A dark theme keeps me here, I'll make a broken music
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Figures in a Landscape
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