Photographic Alphabet: L is for Simon Lehner
Written by Agnes Bae
Simon Lehner (b.1996) is a photographer currently based in Vienna, Austria. His ongoing book project, “Men Don’t Play” which includes a text by Brad Feuerhelm of American Suburb X, was shortlisted for the Unseen Dummy Award in 2017. His work has been featured in The British Journal of Photography, die Zeit, Vice, and exhibited in the UK, the Netherlands, France, Russia, and Austria.
“How Far is a Light Year?” investigates fatherhood, love, and the development of identity through family. The series follows the viewpoint of a boy who resembles the state of balancing two conflicting sides, while being stuck in the firing line of a bad love story. Through a series of 3D renderings and scans, consisting of images Lehner took of his father dating back to 2005, he transforms his father into a tangible digital entity—illustrating a portrait without physical contact. The 3D renderings hint at the distance and the longing for a father and simultaneously resentment due to his abandonment.
While some of the images are artifacts of Lehner’s childhood, like the image of his cave hideout, others metaphorically visualize the idea of growth and development. The photographs juxtaposed, poetically landscape a personal journey about familial connection and emotional closeness but also evoke questions about memory and its fluid construction and re-construction. Simon Lehner’s work emerges from personal experiences and ultimately maintains a documentary core as it explores contemporary issues, social structures, psychology and their relation to social developments through direct and embedded observation.