I know we'll never be married in Hawaii.
I know we'll never be.
I am somewhat satisfied, letting go of the fantasy.
And yet as I stand here, looking at the sea, I ponder
It is like a plastic gem at the bottom of the box, one that I don't remember putting there.
It didn't put itself there.
So I wonder about who did.
My work concerns the representation of the cultural categories of “body” and “identity”. I work with figurative imagery because, like the aformentioned categories, their functions as subject matter are always fluid and have the ability to endlessly transform. At the same time, like the bounding box of a camera frame, bodies, identities, and figures can simultaneously produce boundaries and limitations around what we can know from looking.
I am interested in the cultural assumption that bodies correlate to identities. I am even more interested in the slippage that occurs when inner essences associated with identity are at odds with outward appearances of bodies. I am concerned with the expectation that artists should authenticate their personal identities by representing bodies like theirs in their work.
I ask a lot of questions of myself and of my viewers in the multilayered figurative images that I make:
- What are the cultural processes that make an identity legible in the form of an image representing a body?
- If portraits are a possibility for visibility, aren’t the same images also capable of limiting our understanding of possibilities when it comes to understanding “identity” and “body”?
- How are images made? What makes an image? Who makes an image?
- What is at stake when a body undergoes the process of being represented, especially when it becomes a subject so far removed from its origin, that is, the body itself?
Over the past six years I have used different methods of image-making to explore these questions, such as lens-based capture, digital compositing, and painting. At the same time, I have worked with specific visual traditions and styles as a way to examine cultural processes that render figures as normative, white, and male.
It is my aim to critically challenge the power of identitarian categories in the form of cultural images, as well as the power of those who make such an economy of knowing-by-looking possible. To make portraits is a methodology through which to destabilize the assumptions made about both identity and body, and the link between the two - especially in the flexible, slippery, yet-to-be-determined disciplinary area of photography.
Like bodies and identities, photography as a discipline has yet to solidify, less than two-hundred years after its invention, and remains viscuous, radical, and constantly in flux.
"What does it feel like?" he asks me, earnestly.
Echoing, like a crystal bell in the middle of a blinding winter's day:
"What does transparency keep obscure?"
Simko’s work has been exhibited at museums and galleries throughout the United States including The Vizcaya Museums and Gardens, The Walters Art Museum, The University of New Mexico Art Museum, Sanitary Tortilla Factory, Colorado Photographic Arts Center, and Hillyer Arts Space. Simko is a 2018 recipient of the Van Deren Coke Fellowship in Photography from the University of New Mexico. Simko holds an MFA in Photography from the University of New Mexico, as well as a BFA in Art History, Theory & Criticism from the Maryland Institute College of Art.