Simen Johan was born in Kirkenes, Norway in 1973, moved to Hollviken, Sweden in 1979 and has lived in New York City since 1992. Johan earned an Associate Degree in Film/Video/Photography in 1992 from Lugnetskolan in Falun, Sweden. In 1995, he received a Bachelor of Fine Art in Photography from the School of Visual Arts in New York.

Artist Statement
I create digital photographic scenarios that, although artificially constructed, appear to portray specific moments in time. By combining disparate elements, I create narrative possibilities and allegories that appear vaguely familiar and produce numerous associations. I hope to seduce viewers into letting their experience, imagination, and understanding of existing popular narratives create their own interpretations of my images.

My images are composites of multiple image fragments that have been digitally manipulated and combined. I use images that I have photographed myself as well as images I've found. By outputting my images onto photographic negative film and then printing and toning them conventionally, I obtain archival prints and a photographic quality that oppose the general expectations of computer-manipulated imagery. This creates a deceptive sense of familiarity and nostalgia and emphasizes further the characteristic of photography to provide evidence. It contributes to factual and informational content, which further influence the viewer to approach, on an imaginary level, my scenarios as real and perceive my characters as actual beings.

Fascinated with the enigma of abnormality, I combine parts of different faces and bodies to create characters with peculiar appearances. I look for physical expressions that reveal a sense of truth about my character's state of mind and being. I often create children and adolescents because they exist in a state of disingenuous grace and innocence that evokes compassion and sympathy in the viewer. In my images, I take the idealistic image of youth and corrupt it by putting children and adolescents in discomforting situations. I want to create a conflict between our inherited precepts of right and wrong in order to cause a disturbance in the viewer and provoke a dialogue with his/her conscience.

I prefer to work intuitively; the final image is never planned. I feel that the true power of an image emerges when it is allowed to develop on its own. This means that I do not overtly conceptualize or plan my images. I allow myself to change them constantly by adding and subtracting elements, thus keeping the image in a state of flux. Working with digital photography in this way allows me to re-work the image until I have achieved the type of narrative moment that I'm looking for. Making these images is a kind of automatic writing, the feedback of my consciousness.

The Alternative Museum | Digitally Born
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