David SimsProgression
Interview William J. Simmons

photography David Sims
interview William J. Simmons

“I THINK MOSTLY I’M PUSHED BY A MISREMEMBERED EXPERIENCE THAT I MIGHT’VE HAD. IT’S IMPORTANT FOR ME TO USE SOME OF THE CHARACTERS AND MATERIALS FROM MY OWN LIFE. THIS IS WHY I WORK WITH MUSIC ALL THE TIME. I’M VERY SUSCEPTIBLE TO MUSIC PROVOKING A FEELING FOR ME. IT MIGHT COME FROM HAVING LISTENED TO SOMETHING OR SOMETHING I’VE NEVER HEARD BEFORE.”

WS Your work has an interesting emotional range. What is the difference between earnest emotion and just being cool?
DS I’m not sure that I ever could define what cool is. I think it’s difficult for me, for my own sense of purpose, to have a formula for that. I might be afraid of my work looking too earnest or too worthy or too serious, so sometimes just to flip it, I play with the concept of pastiche or pictures carrying a certain irony to them, but that doesn’t necessarily belie the fact that there might be an intention beyond this. Irony tends to be a slightly surface effect, especially in fashion photography. Whether it has meaning for people who are either making it or looking at it, I couldn’t say.

But for myself, putting an element or a layer of pastiche into my work might come over as being primarily ironic, or a bit tongue in cheek, or maybe a cover-up for something, which is a slightly angrier statement. If I’m going to describe a person or a subject that might have an effect on me, it is because it might seem unreachable. It might seem something that’s above comparison really. The women that I might want to present are quite strong and distant. I don’t normally play with the idea of a sexualization in the image unless, again, I’m playing with certain mannerisms, but I certainly don’t feel like I depict women as sexual for the sake of provoking desire or titillation.

Download MUSE 46 to read the full interview.