Acorn is an early digital print by Francesco Simeti. The format is based on the print room papers fashionable in England in the mid-18th century. This trend began with the pasting of actual prints on the wall, which were then outlined with narrow wallpaper borders. Manufacturers picked up on this trend and started designing wallpaper that copied the look of framed prints. Common views included pastoral scenes and architectural ruins.
Simeti based his design on print room papers, but replaced the characteristically bucolic scenes with disturbing contemporary imagery found in the media. The scenes in Acorn feature workers in hazmat suits removing furniture from mercury-contaminated housing in Texarkana, Arkansas, and Cambodian soldiers, also in hazmat clothing, preparing to clean up a toxic waste dump. Through incorporating these images, Simeti makes a statement about the complacency with which people consume the news. By removing these images from the media format and placing them within the repetitive format of wallpaper, Simeti coerces the viewer to contend with the images at face value. The union of the disturbing imagery with the inherent beauty and passive quality of the wallpaper creates a tension only revealed upon close inspection.
Simeti was born in Palermo, Italy, and now lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. This paper was originally designed for an exhibition at Wave Hill, in the Bronx, New York, which explored the relationship between the home, the natural world, and the world beyond the home. Another of Simetti’s wallpaper designs can be found in Cooper-Hewitt’s collection.