Jason Simon (artist)

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Jason Simon (artist)
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Jason Simon

1961 (age 61–62)
Boston, Massachusetts, US
  • Literature and film
  • Masters of Fine Arts
Alma mater
  • Sarah Lawrence College
  • Columbia University
  • University of California, San Diego
Jason Simon
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  • Morris Simon (father)
  • Josephine Simon (mother)

Jason Simon (born 1961) is an American artist who teaches at The College of Staten Island, City University of New York.[1]

Early life

Jason Simon was born in 1961, in Boston, Massachusetts, to parents who had emigrated from South Africa via London.[2] His father, Morris Simon, was a radiologist and inventor, and his mother, Josephine Simon, worked in community theater and arts education, eventually creating the first Masters in Women's Studies program, at the Goddard Cambridge Program for Social Change.[3][4] He is the nephew of South African writer, playwright, and director Barney Simon. He pursued undergraduate studies in literature and film at Sarah Lawrence College and Columbia University's School of General Studies, from 1979–1984.[5] he is a 1984–85 alumnus of the Whitney Museum of American Art Independent Study Program, and earned a Masters of Fine Arts from the University of California, San Diego, in 1988.[6]

Early career and education

Simon left his undergraduate studies in 1981 to work in Cambridge, MA, for Stuart Cody, an audio engineer associated with the ethnographic film and American Direct Cinema community there.[7] Returning to school a year later, he finished his studies at Columbia and the Whitney Museum Independent Study Program while working as a sound recordist in independent film production, and advertising.[8] This period resulted in his film and video projects Production Notes: Fast Food for Thought (1987), and Artful History: A Restoration Comedy (1987). He left New York City to study at UC San Diego from 1986–1988.[2]

Exhibitions and curating

Production Notes: Fast Food for Thought was selected for the 1989 Whitney Biennial, at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.[9] The work is a roughly 30-minute tape addressing the first-hand intentions and semiotics of high-budget television commercials that Simon had worked on.[10] That same year, Simon premiered at the Collective for Living Cinema in New York City, together with the artist Mark Dion, their film Artful History: A Restoration Comedy, which explore the business of fine art restoration—its mercantilism and the narratives of the skilled artisans entwined in it.[9]

Later in 1989, Simon joined the staff of the newly opened Wexner Center for the Arts, at Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, working alongside curator and art historian Bill Horrigan.[9] At the museum, he served as an Assistant Curator of film and video through 1991, while also establishing the museum's unique technological laboratory that would host and support artists to produce professional films, which was originally called the Art & Tech Residency.[7]

Following his role at the Wexner Center for the Arts, Simon began to organize video programming across institutions in Europe and New York. Programs such as "Downsizing the Image Factory" were screened at venues including Kunstverein München (1994), L'Unité d'Habitation, Firminy, France (1993), and Philadelphia Museum of Art (1995).[11][12] In New York, Simon organized video programs including "Man Trouble," at Exit Art (1994), and "The Talking Cure," at Artists Space (1992), both New York.[13] Much of these events were comprised of video works by artists practicing at the time and capturing contemporary concerns of media, spectatorship, and activism.

By the mid-90s, Simon was beginning to exhibit his own multimedia work in one-person exhibitions. In 1994, he presented "The Mayfair Show," at the Mayfair Club and at American Fine Arts, Co., both in New York. The exhibition centered on connections between art making and gambling through the lens of psychoanalysis, and would travel years later to Yale Union, Portland, OR, in 2016.[14][15] As part of his representation with the Pat Hearn Gallery, Simon presented three solo exhibitions, one in 1994 titled "Album," an arrangement of large-scale polaroid photographs.[16] His 1996 exhibition at the gallery, entitled "Spirits," included a selection of hand-toned silver gelatin prints that depicted various sinewy, curvilinear representations of cigarette smoke. In 1998, he presented his exhibition "Public Address: Collapsed" at Pat Hearn Gallery, a tableau with stadium-scale speaker horns resting on the gallery floor. Writing in the pages of Artforum, art historian George Baker likened the exhibition to "a scene of catastrophe," that "opened up a surprising number of reflections on contemporary sculptural production."[17]

In the spring of 2005, Simon, along with a number of other collaborators, began to operate Orchard, a cooperatively run gallery in New York City's Lower East Side. Orchard's format was primarily to organize exhibitions of various artists by thematically connected groups, while also drawing links between different generations of artists and reintroducing historically marginalized projects or cultural producers. The project-space was intended to last three years, and concluded in May of 2008.[18] In April 2006, Jason Simon exhibited his film Vera at Orchard, which he produced in 2003. The 25-minute video work takes on the format of an interview with a woman named Vera that discusses her addiction to purchasing designer clothes and accessories, alongside broader concerns such as the psychology of consumerism and desire.[19]

From 2003–2012, with the artist Moyra Davey, Simon organized the "One-Minute Film Festival," and annual summer gathering in a barn in upstate New York. Each year, dozens of artists would present new films lasting sixty seconds in length. By the time of the project's conclusion, over 350 filmmakers had participated to show over 700 films.[20] The project would spawn exhibitions and festivals celebrating the screened films, presented by institutions including the Art Institute of Chicago in 2010, and MASS MoCA in 2013.[21][22]

In the 2010's, Jason Simon's art would be more regularly exhibited in New York City with his representation at the gallery Callicoon Fine Arts. In 2012, he presented the exhibition Festschrift for an Archive, which focused on the now-defunct MoMA Film Still Archive headed by Mary Corliss.[23] In a review published by The New Yorker, critic Nana Asfour contextualized the exhibition as part of the approach known as "institutional critique," a "mode of probing the workings and assumed functions of art institutions."[24] Simon continues to exhibit at Callicoon Fine Arts, with exhibitions in 2013, 2015, and 2018. His 2015 presentation Request Lines are Open, focused on the weekly audience of DJ Liberty Green's radio show Soul Spectrum, on WJFF radio, a non-profit station with a listening area that includes the large state and federal prison population of upstate New York.[7] Writing for Artforum, the critic Michael Wilson remarked that the presentation seemed "oddly static" for a representation of a still-vital resource such as the radio show.[25]

Alongside his artistic practice, Simon has maintained a connection to teaching and pedagogy. Apart from his foundational efforts for the Wexner Center's Art and Technology Lab, Simon also participated in the formation of the College of Staten Island's Department of Media Culture in 2002, having worked in the university's Performing and Creative Arts department for three years prior. Since this time, he has continued teaching at the institution's Media Culture department, and has also taught courses at locales including Sarah Lawrence College, William Patterson University, and School of the Art Institute of Chicago.[26][27]


  1. "Jason Simon | | CSI CUNY Website". www.csi.cuny.edu. Retrieved 2020-03-26.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Schulman, Sarah (December 8, 2013). "Act Up Oral History Project - Interview 157: Jason Simon" (PDF). Act Up. Retrieved April 22, 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  3. Pearce, Jeremy (2005-01-22). "Morris Simon, Developer of Flexible Blood Clot Filter, Has Died at 79". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-04-22.
  4. Schulman, Sarah (December 8, 2013). "Act Up Oral History Project - Interview 157: Jason Simon" (PDF). Act Up. Retrieved April 22, 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  5. "Orchard47". www.47orchard.org. Retrieved 2020-04-22.
  6. "Orchard47". www.47orchard.org. Retrieved 2020-04-22.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 "Jason Simon by Claire Pentecost - BOMB Magazine". bombmagazine.org. Retrieved 2020-04-22.
  8. Schulman, Sarah (December 8, 2013). "Act Up Oral History Project - Interview 157: Jason Simon" (PDF). Act Up. {{cite web}}: |archive-date= requires |archive-url= (help)CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 "Before and After UbuWeb: A conversation about artists' film and video distribution". Rhizome. Retrieved 2020-04-22.
  10. "Production Notes: Fast Food for Thought | Video Data Bank". www.vdb.org. Retrieved 2020-04-22.
  11. "km". www.kunstverein-muenchen.de. Retrieved 2020-04-22.
  12. "Philadelphia Museum of Art - Exhibitions - Downsizing the Image Factory". www.phillymuseumofart.com. Retrieved 2020-04-22.
  13. "The Talking Cure". old.artistsspace.org. Retrieved 2020-04-22.
  14. "Jason Simon by Claire Pentecost - BOMB Magazine". bombmagazine.org. Retrieved 2020-04-22.
  15. castillo/corrales (August 2016). "Theory of Achievement" (PDF). Yale Union. Retrieved April 22, 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  16. "Orchard47". www.47orchard.org. Retrieved 2020-04-22.
  17. "George Baker on Jason Simon". www.artforum.com. Retrieved 2020-04-22.
  18. "Orchard47". www.47orchard.org. Retrieved 2020-04-22.
  19. Johnson, Ken (2006-05-26). "Art in Review". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-04-22.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  20. "One Minute Film Festival 2003-2012". MASS MoCA. Retrieved 2020-04-22.
  21. Koziarski, Ed M. "One-Minute Film Festival". Chicago Reader. Retrieved 2020-04-22.
  22. "One Minute Film Festival 2003-2012". MASS MoCA. Retrieved 2020-04-22.
  23. "Jason Simon by Claire Pentecost - BOMB Magazine". bombmagazine.org. Retrieved 2020-04-22.
  24. Asfour, Nana. "A Courageous Little Gallery Takes on MOMA". The New Yorker. Retrieved 2020-04-22.
  25. "Michael Wilson on Jason Simon". www.artforum.com. Retrieved 2020-04-22.
  26. "Jason Simon | | CSI CUNY Website". www.csi.cuny.edu. Retrieved 2020-04-22.
  27. "Jason Simon". School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Retrieved 2020-04-22.

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