A photographer by trade Simone Simon worked in fashion and advertising from 1980 to 2000. From this date she develops an artistic practice, mixing shots, videos, sound recordings and written testimonies. 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 (Souriez, on se détruit, Ainsi va la lumière). With Les portes du St Pierre (ed. Le Passager Clandestin), she meets women in a suburb of Nice as their insalubrious building, already half-abandoned, is about to be destroyed.

Invoking the buried memories of childhood, the cradle of first emotions, she gathers audio testimonies, bordering on the dreamy (Do not watch the fox go by). With Nostalgia of the Present, a nod to the world of Paul Auster, she confronts the faces of children and adults: “Everything is already inscribed in a child’s face, “* she notes, and the double portraits she proposes bring out in a troubling way the astonishing resemblance of a face that time cannot alter.

Often, Simone Simon relies on the participation of anonymous people (Sur le passage de quelques personnes à travers…) and whatever the problematic posed, the images, stories and testimonies speak a common language to all. The artist highlights mental images, convictions, regrets or dreams, taking the time to listen, with the strong will to not stage anything, but simply to seize a subjective reality in which everyone can find a little of himself and his relationship to others. This was also her approach when she directed the film Boxing-club with Eric Antolinos, shot in a boxing club in the suburbs of Nice. There, she let the word flow freely and focused 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, CORPS/VOIX territoire de l’intime, she brings together thirty or so testimonies of women in the often troubled relationship they have with their bodies. Posing naked in an intimate setting, these anonymous women assert their desire for freedom: they rise up against cultural diktats and aesthetic codes, often alienating.

Without ever falling into pathos, nor claiming any kind of militancy, she evokes how people’s lives are affected by political decisions of all kinds. Benevolence and slowness make this poetry so particular, where time seems suspended.

Christine Parasote

* Paul Auster in The Invention of Solitude, Actes Sud, 1993