Simon Fujiwara blends performance, sculpture, text, and film to create complex and immersive installations. His seminal work, 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. The taxidermied eagle references the Aztec pictogram for Tenochtitlan (now Mexico City)—an eagle holding a serpent, perched atop a prickly pear cactus—which now appears in the center of the Mexican flag. Fujiwara’s installation is lined with several meters of green, white, and red curtain; the colors of the Mexican flag. As a European working with distinctly Mexican objects and artifacts, Fujiwara critically evokes the colonial relationship between his home continent and host country.