Fabulous Beasts

Project by Simon Fujiwara at the Dokuchaev Central Museum of Soil Science

The coats from a series of recent works where fur coats are completely shaved to reveal the structure of their production. The works are a form of archaeology where by removing the ‘beauty’ and deeper beauty is revealed that is the man-made construction of the garment. Each animal and each coat is individualized and tells its own story with stains, marks, skin degradations and production stamps. The fur coat, a symbol of wealth in Europe in the 20th century and today in emerging markets, is not only man’s first clothing garment but today is a sign of man’s economic decadence. The coats now only skin become brutal and primal objects, referring back to our earliest ancestors. They may also refer to the violence of luxury in production under late capitalism.  In the museum presented together with ancient artifacts they provoke thoughts of early man skins, primal dress, and necessity versus luxury.

Simon Fujiwara (UK)


Born in 1982 in London and currently based in Berlin, Simon Fujiwara has shaped a complex and rich practice that interweaves performance, film, sculpture, and text into highly immersive environmental installations. Bringing personal experiences (both real and imagined) into contact with broader historical, social, and political topics, his expansive practice has been described as an “autobiographical journey through the architecture of modern life—constantly rebuilt as it is retold.” His exhibitions and projects function as theatrical frameworks where players—family members, real-life friends, historical figures—and events cohabit and interact, generating situations where the real and the imagined are not easily discernable.

In January 2012, Tate St Ives hosted his first major solo survey exhibition Since 1982 which was held in his hometown of St Ives and accordingly featured six of his key autobiographically charged installations. In 2011 Berlin’s Hebbel am Ufer theatre showed his first theatre work The Boy Who Cried Wolf which incorporated three of his acclaimed performances into a full three-act play which subsequently toured to New York’s Performa 11 Biennale and San Francisco’s Museum of Modern Art.

His work has been presented in group and solo exhibitions at institutions including Tate St. Ives, UK; MoMA, NY; Julia Stoschek Collection, Dusseldorf; Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo; Kunstverein Braunschweig; and SFMoMA, San Francisco. His participation in international biennales includes Venice, (2009), Sao Paulo (2010), Gwangjyu (2012), Shanghai (2012) and Sharjah (2013).

Dokuchaev Central Museum of Soil Science

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Dokuchaev Central Museum of Soil Science opened to the public  on 6 November 1904 as part of the Russian Free Economic Society. The museum was founded by the prominent Russian geo-morphologist and soil scientist Vassily Dokuchaev who also formulated the Museum’s mission and program of activity. The Museum became the first soil science institution both in Russia and in the world. The museum is housed in the building of the former port warehouse (1826–1832, architect I.F. Luchini) in the very center of St. Petersburg, next to the Spit of Vassilievsky Island. The museum owns unique collections of soils from all over the world; 450 out of 2500 samples are on display permanently. Among of the unique exhibits are: a two-meter volumetric sample of black soil (chernozem) called by Dokuchaev “king of soils”, a soil globe with Earth’s relief, a sample of fossil soil (over 125 thousand years old), Dokuchaev’s portrait made of various types of soil. The Soil Museum is a unique natural science museum that demonstrates soil diversity and interrelations of soils with other elements of ecosystems, thus introducing major environmental issues.

Address: 6 Birzhevoy passage, Vasilievsky Island
How to get to the museum:  Bus 7 departs from the Primorskaya metro station: get off at “University” bus stop; buses 191, K209, trolleybus 7 depart from the Sportivnaya metro station: get off at the “Birzhevaya Square” bus stop
Tel.:  +7 (812) 328 54 02
Museum hours: Monday, Wednesday–Friday 10:00–17:00 for groups only by appointment with excursion, Tuesday 10:00–17:00 for individual visitors
Closed: Saturday, Sunday
Ticket: 1000 rub. – excursion by appointment, Tuesday – admission free (without excursion)