We welcome Teiji Hayama to Unit London for his first solo show at the gallery. FAME is here in all its twisted, grey-scale glory, forcing us to meditate on what it means to interact with the notion of celebrity in a digital age.
In his 1986 work Answered Prayers, Truman Capote wrote Kate Mccloud into existence: a thinly veiled composite character, the largest constituent of which was Marilyn Monroe. Capote’s protagonist muses on meeting the infamous Kate for the first time, thinking “I’d never again belong to myself. It was as if I’d slipped into furious white water, an icy boiling current carrying me, slamming me towards some picturesque but dastardly cascade.” This intensity of personality is something Teiji Hayma strives to emulate in FAME.
Like Capote, Teiji Hayama has been fixated on Monroe for some time. Hayama finds the process by which a celebrity becomes stratospherically famous extremely interesting. It appears to be a mixture of hard work and meticulous social maintenance, something that was also adopted by the likes of Elvis Presley and David Bowie. The majority of Hayama’s subjects have been plucked from the silver screen, they depict the elongated, amorphous figures of some of America’s most iconic stars. The detachment in their gaze belies a kind of purgatorial exhaustion, as if continuing to exist in the digital, retweeted realm after death is a considerably taxing experience. However, FAME is not just about celebrity, it’s about how we interact with fame and what fame is in a contemporary setting. With the emergence of wide scale social media interaction, the prophetic Warhol adage that “in the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes” looks increasingly apt. Hayama’s work is about the exhaustion felt by us all as we carefully curate our digital personas, waiting for our brief twirl on the spotlit dancefloor of FAME.