By digitally manipulating and combining disparate elements taken from images that I've photographed myself as well as from images I've found, I fabricate narrative possibilities and situations that appear vaguely familiar and produce numerous associations. I combine parts of different faces and bodies to create characters with peculiar appearances and physical expressions that reveal a sense of truth about his/her state of mind and being.
Children and adolescents 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 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 intuitively adding and subtracting elements, thus keeping the image in a state of flux until the type of peculiar situation that I'm looking for is achieved.
The final image is output onto photographic negative film and then printed and toned conventionally. By doing this I obtain archival prints and a photographic quality that contributes to a deceptive sense of familiarity and nostalgia and that opposes the general expectations of computer-manipulated imagery.
Born in Kirkenes, Norway, in 1973, Simen Johan moved to New York in 1992. He received his BFA in Photography from the School of Visual Arts in New York and has exhibited in Europe and the US. His images have also appeared in several publications, including HotLava magazine, Zoom International, and USA Today.