Simon Fujiwara to Make a Film About His Former Art Teacher Shamed by Tabloids

Joanne Salley resigned after pupils and the tabloids discovered her nude photos.

Simon Fujiwara Still, Joanne (2016). Photo courtesy of FVU and The Photographers’ Gallery

The Photographers’ Gallery in London has commissioned artist Simon Fujiwara to make a film about his former teacher Joanne Salley, who left her post as an art teacher at the Harrow School for Boys amid a tabloid scandal in 2011.

Salley resigned from her job at the top boys school after topless photographs of her, taken by a female photography teacher, were discovered by pupils on a hard drive, distributed around the school, and then to the tabloids.

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“As a former pupil of hers, Joanne reached out to me,” Fujiwara told the Art Newspaper. “She realized that art is where she could project the complexity of her story, as she feels misrepresented.”

He added, “I am not a media company; I can’t remake her image. I’m presenting many different kinds of mirrors [on her life].” The film looks at representation, identity, and empathy in the social media age, tinged with Fujiwara’s tongue-in-cheek approach to blurring fact and fiction.

Salley, a former Miss Northern Ireland, TV-presenter, and artist, has gone on to become a boxer and part-time model since leaving the scandal behind her. She says she remembers Fujiwara as an inspirational person to teach.

“As my teacher, Joanne helped me understand the problematic nature of beauty, representation and identity. She taught me the tools I am now using to create a video portrait of her,” the artist explained.

Short clips of the film—a collaborative work with Salley—have been released by the three co-commissioners, The photographers’ Gallery, the Ishikawa Foundation, and Film and Video Umbrella. The clips show Salley talking into the camera as though making a Snapchat story or posting online.

“I am a model, I am a teacher, I am a lover, I am an artist, I am a chameleon, I am a fighter, I am a person, I am a female,” Salley’s voice says over footage of her running in the park.

Simon Fujiwara: Joanne” will be on view at the Photographers Gallery from October 7- January 8, 2016

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