Studying Biology and Human Dissection at Grand Canyon University before pursuing an MFA at the School of Visual Arts, Simon began his inquiry into fragmenting the body. Using photography and collage, he creates an altered reality, one in which the body is confronted, transfigured, and accepted. As a Romanian queer person grappling with issues of alienation, gender expectations, and body dysmorphia, Simon’s work evokes the complexities of gender and sexuality by complicating the viewer’s relationship between figure, ground and their own vision. Drawing on Modernist photographers— Richard Avedon, George Platt Lynes, Man Ray—as well as synthetic cubism, his puzzling portraits contemplate photography’s relationship to sculpture by regurgitating two-dimensional and three-dimensional volume.
Paul Simon is a co-founder of SoMad Studio, a project space in the Flatiron District empowering emerging artists. His work has been published in PDN, Aint-Bad, and Wired.
Genesis of Desire
Genesis of Desire is a studio-based project that is made in response to the layered complications of privacy, secrecy, and desire. The work pairs black-and-white modernist photography with the layering of collaged male bodies that exist in both physical and imaginary planes. The dysmorphic forms become a site of transformation and fragmentation of the physical and psychological body. I explore the shifting roles of gay masculine identity, its cultural and utopian possibilities, and differing dimensions of domination and submission. The printed matter becomes an extension and breaking apart of the body beyond its own defined parameters. In this way, the printed material is transformed into a mask, emphasizing what is concealed. Embracing the innate characteristics of paper through creases, bends, and tears, the physical collage-based photographs demonstrate that sculpture can be crafted in two dimensions. Photographing one body throughout the whole project as a surrogate for my own, the series is a collaboration with a friend, who also happens to be named Paul Simon (Zivkovich).
To view more of Paul Simon’s work please visit his website.