The Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art (NGCA) is pleased to present a new body of work by the Swiss artist Simon Senn. 'Fawcett Street', Senn's first solo exhibition in the UK, is named after the street that the NGCA is situated on. Historically Sunderland's financial centre, Fawcett Street now finds itself commercially marginalised by a nearby shopping mall. Since the Second World War, the decline of the manufacturing industries and the rise of consumerism have put Fawcett Street at the edge of the city - with its grand Victorian and Edwardian department stores and banks under-occupied or unoccupied, the street has been left somewhat overlooked.
For this new project Senn, along with an assistant, walked around Fawcett Street during the day asking people if they wanted to participate in a performance at the NGCA for a small fee. The participants were tasked with interpreting the singular instruction "be sensational", documenting each other's actions with their own camera phones. These photographs were then given to a psychologist who has written a series of reports based on the images. The pictures and texts will be framed and displayed at the NGCA. The project extends Senn's recent interest in behavioural patterns. The artist's films, performances and photography have persistently explored group dynamics and amplified the inherent tensions within particular social settings. From offering cash prizes to conducting interviews with people using appropriated and pejorative media statements, Senn's work has persistently undermined the authorial distance and assumed benevolence of historical documenterism. Senn's work raises complex questions around visibility, representation and political agency. The exhibition will be accompanied by an essay and has been kindly supported by Pro Helvetia and the Switzerland Cultural Fund.
Simon Senn (born in 1986) is based in Geneva. He studied at the HEAD Geneva University of Art & Design, at the London School of Journalism and graduated with an MFA from Goldsmiths College, London in 2013. His works have been exhibited at the ICA London, at the Liverpool Biennial 2014, at the Centro d'Arte Contemporanea del Ticino Bellinzona, Salon Kennedy in Frankfurt, the Videodromo Atelier dell'Arco Amoroso Ancona in Italy, Museum für Gegenwartskunst in Basel and the Kunstmuseum, Bern. Senn has received numerous grants and prizes, including the Swiss Art Prize, Prix Suisse de la Performance (both 2011) and Kiefer-Hablitzel Preis (2009).