Ian F. Simpson
Informed by his experience as a working-class man, from his school days to truck driver, theatrical set painter, to studio director and first-generation postgraduate Master of Fine Art, Simpson meditates on the absurdity of masculinities and how such contradictions can burden the mind and challenge our own existence.
Raised in a society that believed in and imposed specific gender roles, as children, boys wore blue and girls wore pink, popularity hinged, in part, on how well one conformed to the favoured gendered stereotypes. But as we grew into adults, the notion of gender as a social construct gained momentum in the mainstream. Now, these gendered roles, and the systems that impose them, are being challenged more than ever. The recently opined ‘war on masculinity’ brings with it an unsettling and uncomfortable landscape for many of whom cannot find comfort in accepting that in many societies, patriarchy is losing control.
Men are caught between those two worlds, this current project responds to the social conditioning of masculinity in modern Western societies and how it weighs down on the fragility of its foundations, how it has for millennia avoided the acknowledgment of the absurdity of the expectations of masculinity and how it has taken the lives of far too many of us. The tropes and totemic elements of hyper-masculinity now worn as a uniform, the incestuous strength of social media, language, free will and performance of key role models to those who seek those who wish to uphold masculinity through fear and capitalism, forming identity into a commodity. In a decade where a convicted rapist and people trafficker has been given a platform by the media to evangelise his dangerous opinions and aggressive stance in how men should be in society, if his form of masculinity is to survive. Yet the victims of his aggression and abuse go unseen.
Through the use of stills photography Simpson began to develop a language of capturing actuality, only to acknowledge the philosophies of Barthes with each photographer becoming an “agent of death”, the suicide, or death survives himself and is infinitely reborn in his announcement, he keeps outliving his death as an immortal shadow, he transforms himself into a photographic image delivered to you as a message from the future.
This is where Simpson began his exploration of absurdism and sought how to develop more sympathetic, gentler and empathetic ways to make new work, now exploring photo poetry, performance, projection, sculpture, interactive video installation, visual literacy and lyricism.