Prom Queen Picking Corn, 2012. Ambrotype. 36 x 30 inches. Courtesy of the artists and the Portrait Society Gallery, Milwaukee.

Appleton, WI


John Shimon and Julie Lindermann have spent the past thirty years together as collaborative artists, teachers, and partners. In their recent series Decay Utopia Decay, they employ self-portraiture to reflect on the passing of time and the fragility of human existence. Using an ultra-large-format hand-built camera and historical photographic processes, they documented themselves performing daily chores on their organic farm in Manitowoc, Wisconsin. Although the project was driven by a shared “desperation to create a paradise and record its existence,” the resulting portraits present a situation that falls short of the utopian ideal: dressed in thrift store costumes, the artists battle against an uncontrollable plant world, broken-down farm equipment, and swarms of wasps and mosquitos. In confronting the endless cycle of erosion, decay, and renewal on their farm, Shimon and Lindemann also face the inevitable degeneration of their own bodies.


John Shimon and Julie Lindemann have worked collaboratively since 1989, when they established their art practice in a nineteenth-century warehouse storefront in Manitowoc. They both received Masters degrees in social documentary photography from Illinois State University. Currently, Shimon and Lindemann are professors at Lawrence University in Appleton where they teach photography, digital processes, and drawing. Their work is found in the public collections at the Art Institute of Chicago, Chazen Museum of Art, Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, Milwaukee Art Museum, Museum of Wisconsin Art, Racine Art Museum, and the Wisconsin Historical Society. Shimon and Lindemann have been published in a number of books and have exhibited nationally. The artists are represented by the Portrait Society Gallery in Milwaukee.

Behind the Scenes

J. Shimon & J. Lindemann: Too Big