A photographer by trade, Simone Simon has been developing for fifteen years an artistic practice combining photography, videos, sound recordings and written testimonials. Each of her projects is built in a pragmatic way, to render a raw, often poetic reality. Anchored in a social approach, she seeks in the subjects she captures a living testimony, where absence and time weigh sometimes as a threat, sometimes as a hope.
Thus, time seems to have stopped when she photographs industrial districts and disused infrastructures in several European cities, giving light the leading role (Smile, we are being destroyed, Thus goes the light). With Les portes du St Pierre (ed. Le Passager Clandestin), she goes to meet women in a suburb of Nice as their unhealthy building, already half abandoned, is about to be destroyed.
Invoking the buried memories of childhood, cradle of the first emotions, she gathers audio testimonies, on the edge of a dream (Ne regardez pas le renard passer). With Nostalgie du présent, a nod to the world of Paul Auster, she brings children’s and adults’ faces face to face: “Everything is already inscribed in a child’s face “*, she observes, and the double portraits she offers bring out in a disturbing way the astonishing resemblance of a face that time cannot denature.
Simone Simon often relies on the participation of anonymous people (On the passage of a few people through…) and whatever the problem posed, the images, stories and testimonies speak a language common to all. The artist highlights mental images, convictions, regrets or dreams, taking the time to listen, with the strong will not to stage anything, but simply to grasp a subjective reality in which each person can find a little bit of himself and his relationship with others. This is also her approach when she directed with Eric Antolinos the film, Boxing-club, shot in a boxing club in the suburbs of Nice. There, she gives free speech and lingers on the sporting gestures and attitudes that create the link between these inhabitants of all generations and communities.
In her current work of photographs and testimonies, Le vent se lève, she gathers about thirty testimonies of women in the often shocked relationship they have with their bodies. Posing naked in a setting that is intimate to them, these anonymous women affirm their desire for freedom: they speak out against cultural diktats and aesthetic codes, which are often alienating.
Without ever getting into pathos, nor claiming any militancy, she nevertheless evokes how people’s lives are affected by political decisions of all kinds. Benevolence and slowness make up this very particular poetry, where time seems suspended.
* Paul Auster in, L’invention de la solitude, ed. Actes Sud, 1993