Simen Johan was born in Kirkenes, in the extreme north of Norway, to a Sami father and a Norwegian mother. He moved to Höllviken, Sweden, in 1979. After attending film school at Lugnetskolan in Falun, Sweden, Johan moved to New York City in 1992 to continue his studies at School of Visual Arts, where studied under Duane Michals, James Casebere, and Gregory Crewdson and received his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree.
In his photographs, Simen Johan explores the human proclivity towards fantasy and our attempts, knowing or otherwise, to craft alternate realities for ourselves. Merging traditional photographic techniques with digital methods, Johan creates each of his images from as many as one hundred film negatives. The viewer is urged to ponder the relationship between the real and the artificial or imagined. In his most recent images, from the series Until the Kingdom Comes, Johan depicts animals in scenarios mirroring human conventions. The images allude to our inclination to anthropomorphize and domesticate what we see and find around us, and they speak to realms of emotion— fears and desires—rather than reason.
Johan’s work has been widely exhibited internationally and may be found in the permanent collections of the Brooklyn Museum of Art, Cleveland Art Museum, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and other major institutions. He lives and works primarily in New York City.