Q&A: J. Shimon and J. Lindemann

J. Shimon and J. Lindemann

Georgia Lloyd:
On your website, it says you moved to New York for a year, then decided to return to Wisconsin because you believed you could photograph best what you know. How do you think your work would be different had you not moved back to the Midwest? Do you think you could eventually come to “know” New York as you knew the Midwest, had you stayed there? And have you considered moving elsewhere ever, or is Wisconsin your permanent home?

J. Shimon and J. Lindemann: New York is so often the subject of canonical fine art photographs, and when we thought about that, and realized that Wisconsin wasn't, it made Wisconisn more appealing to us as subject matter and as a place.

© J. Shimon and J. Lindemann

Georgia Lloyd: How would you say your work has changed from the 1980’s to your most recent photos? If you believe it has changed, can you see yourself revisiting any of your past ideas? Is a series ever “done” in the first place?

J. Shimon and J. Lindemann: We took more assignments in the 1980s and photographed quantities of people either for magazines or for our own projects. More recently we focus on the metaphysics of place and often return to photographing the same people and locations over time.

Georgia Lloyd: Your website has a large variety of your artistic photographic work, available to be enlarged and seen on the internet. Your website also has a section for commissioned works of yours – however these images are only thumbnails and not available to be enlarged. Is this merely a copyright issue, or do you have different feelings about your commissioned work? If so, what are they?

J. Shimon and J. Lindemann: When we decided to do a website in 1996 we also decided it was better to put our work out there than not to. A lot of artists were very paranoid back then about copyright and misuse of their work and it was a constant discussion.

© J. Shimon and J. Lindemann

Georgia Lloyd: On your website, you mention using large format film and old photo processes (for some of your work) to push the concept of photographic print as object. Do you mean this as “photo as precious object?” How do you reconcile this idea with photos you have on postcards or on promotional materials, knowing they may likely be thrown out eventually?

J. Shimon and J. Lindemann: The labored over, hand-made print still means something to us. We like to slow down production. There is so much stuff in the world. How do we reconcile making more? We are aware that our prints may get lost or thrown away or they may just as easily keep coming back like phantoms.

© J. Shimon and J. Lindemann

Georgia Lloyd: For “Unmasked and Anonymous,” you employed the use of other artist’s images. How did you collect these images? How did you get permission for their use? Additionally, what are your feelings on appropriating others’ images into a different artist’s work, with or without permission? Do you believe Copyright is something indeterminate and okay to “intrude” upon?

J. Shimon and J. Lindemann: The U&A show was our photographs shown in the context of from the Milwaukee Art Museum's collection. We sifted through something like 2,000 portraits in the collection and selected a range of work from the vernacular (old dags and tintypes and a mugshot) to the self-consciously high art (Stieglitz, Cameron, Kasebier). It seems a natural next step for artists is to sift through institutional collections and reconsider the holdings and for artists to appropriate clips from YouTube and remix them into something that makes sense of all this imagery. This is the only way to make sense of the flood of images that now exists.

Georgia Lloyd: You have a website, a blog, and a flickr account. Assumedly, you feel warmly towards these digital (and very convenient) outlets for getting photographs out to the public. Is this true? Was it always this way? How did you get used to this?

J. Shimon and J. Lindemann: We started using Web 2,0 features right away. Initially some technology-forward friends offered to work with us to design and maintain our web site. Years later as flickr, YouTube, blogspot, Facebook, Twitter, Lulu, et. al. became available, we found it useful to post videos, snapshots, make books, and write about what we're doing. In the 1980s-1990s we did photocopied zines and put out cassettes and LPs of our music so using Web 2.0 seemed natural and pretty easy.

© J. Shimon and J. Lindemann

Georgia Lloyd: How would you describe working collaboratively for almost thirty years? What are some of the difficulties, what are some of the perks?

J. Shimon and J. Lindemann: It is a way of life. We've worked together longer than we worked on our own. We put all of our combined energies and skills into our projects.

Georgia Lloyd: If the two of you were working individually, how do you think your images would be different from what you are producing now?

J. Shimon and J. Lindemann: The work we do on our own is much less structured. John makes drawings, paintings, videos, makes music while Julie writes and makes digital snapshots. All of this ends up being research for the photographs that we make together but using much more rigorous techniques.

Georgia Lloyd: Hypothetically, if an irreconcilable conflict came up between the two of you, do you think you would continue working together for the sake of your artwork?

J. Shimon and J. Lindemann: Our work comes out of our daily life and the people and places that cross or path so the irreconcilable conflict might become the artwork.

© J. Shimon and J. Lindemann

Georgia Lloyd: What are the difficulties and rewards of maintaining your own studio, shooting work and also balancing time for teaching? What is the most fulfilling part of teaching for you, and what is the most frustrating or difficult part? (Assuming you’d even use those words to describe it.)

J. Shimon and J. Lindemann: Maintaining the facility, equipment and archive is time-consuming and we often neglect one area to work on another. Squeezing in commissions
is getting increasingly difficult as our involvement with teaching has grown more consuming. We prefer to spend any free time we have on own art projects so we rarely take commissions these days and refer inquiries to younger photographers. We have a large organic garden and try to raise all of our own food so the little spare time we have goes into that project. We've met some incredible people while pursuing our projects and that's been the most "fulfilling"...

Georgia Lloyd: What advice do you have for young fine arts photographers straight out of college? How did you market yourself when you were young? Was it successful? Would you recommend young artists taking similar measures now, or has the means of marketing changed too much from then to now, especially considering the upheaval of “The Digital”?

J. Shimon and J. Lindemann: It seems much easier for young artists to put themselves out there now using social networking web sites and all the Internet venues that essentially give you an international audience. On the other hand, there may be more clutter because it is so easy. Advice for fine arts photographers straight out of college? Travel and try to meet other artists or people doing interesting stuff. Be as informed as possible about all things. See exhibitions at museums. Post your work online and ask people to look at it. Be persistent. Not sure that we really "marketed" ourselves so much as just kept doing stuff and letting people know our names. That got us this far, but it seems like there's a long way to go.

No comments:

Post a Comment