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Taryn Simon

Installation view, Taryn Simon: A Cold Hole, Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, North Adams, May 26, 2018–March 25, 2019 Artwork © Taryn Simon. Photo: David Dashiell, courtesy MASS MoCA

Installation view, Taryn Simon: A Cold Hole, Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, North Adams, May 26, 2018–March 25, 2019

Artwork © Taryn Simon. Photo: David Dashiell, courtesy MASS MoCA

Installation view, Taryn Simon: An Occupation of Loss, Islington Green and Essex Road, London, April 17–28, 2018. Produced by Artangel. A co-commission by Artangel and Park Avenue Armory Artwork © Taryn Simon. Photo: Hugo Glendinning/Taryn Simon Projects, courtesy the artist

Installation view, Taryn Simon: An Occupation of Loss, Islington Green and Essex Road, London, April 17–28, 2018. Produced by Artangel. A co-commission by Artangel and Park Avenue Armory

Artwork © Taryn Simon. Photo: Hugo Glendinning/Taryn Simon Projects, courtesy the artist

Installation view, Taryn Simon: Paperwork and the Will of Capital, MOMENTA | Biennale de l’image at Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, Quebec, September 8–November 19, 2017 Artwork © Taryn Simon. Photo: Richard-Max Tremblay, courtesy MAC Montréal

Installation view, Taryn Simon: Paperwork and the Will of Capital, MOMENTA | Biennale de l’image at Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, Quebec, September 8–November 19, 2017

Artwork © Taryn Simon. Photo: Richard-Max Tremblay, courtesy MAC Montréal

Installation view, Taryn Simon: Birds of the West Indies, Carnegie International 56th Edition, Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, October 5, 2013–March 16, 2014 Artwork © Taryn Simon. Photo: Greenhouse Media, courtesy Carnegie Museum of Art and Gagosian

Installation view, Taryn Simon: Birds of the West Indies, Carnegie International 56th Edition, Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, October 5, 2013–March 16, 2014

Artwork © Taryn Simon. Photo: Greenhouse Media, courtesy Carnegie Museum of Art and Gagosian

Installation view, Taryn Simon: A Soldier Is Taught to Bayonet the Enemy and Not Some Undefined Abstraction, Galerie Rudolfinum, Prague, Czech Republic, April 27–July 10, 2016 Artwork © Taryn Simon. Photo: Martin Polák, courtesy Galerie Rudolfinum

Installation view, Taryn Simon: A Soldier Is Taught to Bayonet the Enemy and Not Some Undefined Abstraction, Galerie Rudolfinum, Prague, Czech Republic, April 27–July 10, 2016

Artwork © Taryn Simon. Photo: Martin Polák, courtesy Galerie Rudolfinum

Installation view, Taryn Simon: A Living Man Declared Dead and Other Chapters, Museum of Modern Art, New York, May 2–September 3, 2012 Artwork © Taryn Simon. Photo: Jonathan Muzikar, courtesy Museum of Modern Art

Installation view, Taryn Simon: A Living Man Declared Dead and Other Chapters, Museum of Modern Art, New York, May 2–September 3, 2012

Artwork © Taryn Simon. Photo: Jonathan Muzikar, courtesy Museum of Modern Art

Installation view, Taryn Simon, Helsinki Art Museum, Finland, March 9–May 13, 2012 Artwork © Taryn Simon. Photo: Hanna Kukorelli, courtesy Helsinki Art Museum

Installation view, Taryn Simon, Helsinki Art Museum, Finland, March 9–May 13, 2012

Artwork © Taryn Simon. Photo: Hanna Kukorelli, courtesy Helsinki Art Museum

Installation view, Taryn Simon: Action Research/The Stagecraft of Power, Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, Moscow, March 17–May 22, 2016 Artwork © Taryn Simon. Photo: Naroditskiy Alexey, courtesy Garage Museum of Contemporary Art

Installation view, Taryn Simon: Action Research/The Stagecraft of Power, Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, Moscow, March 17–May 22, 2016

Artwork © Taryn Simon. Photo: Naroditskiy Alexey, courtesy Garage Museum of Contemporary Art

Installation view, Taryn Simon: An American Index of the Hidden and Unfamiliar, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, March 9–June 24, 2007 Artwork © Taryn Simon. Photo: Sheldan Collins, courtesy Whitney Museum of American Art

Installation view, Taryn Simon: An American Index of the Hidden and Unfamiliar, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, March 9–June 24, 2007

Artwork © Taryn Simon. Photo: Sheldan Collins, courtesy Whitney Museum of American Art

Installation view, Taryn Simon: The Innocents, Kunst-Werke Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin, 2003 Artwork © Taryn Simon. Photo: courtesy KW Institute for Contemporary Art

Installation view, Taryn Simon: The Innocents, Kunst-Werke Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin, 2003

Artwork © Taryn Simon. Photo: courtesy KW Institute for Contemporary Art

Installation view, Taryn Simon: An Occupation of Loss, Park Avenue Armory, New York, September 13–25, 2016 © Taryn Simon. Photo: Naho Kubota, courtesy the artist and Gagosian

Installation view, Taryn Simon: An Occupation of Loss, Park Avenue Armory, New York, September 13–25, 2016

© Taryn Simon. Photo: Naho Kubota, courtesy the artist and Gagosian

Installation view, Taryn Simon: Action Research/The Stagecraft of Power, Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, Moscow, March 17–May 22, 2016 Artwork © Taryn Simon. Photo: Naroditskiy Alexey, courtesy Garage Museum of Contemporary Art

Installation view, Taryn Simon: Action Research/The Stagecraft of Power, Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, Moscow, March 17–May 22, 2016

Artwork © Taryn Simon. Photo: Naroditskiy Alexey, courtesy Garage Museum of Contemporary Art

Installation view, Taryn Simon: Shouting Is under Calling , Kunstmuseum Luzern, Switzerland, February 24–June 16, 2018 Artwork © Taryn Simon. Photo: Annik Wetter Photographie, courtesy Gagosian

Installation view, Taryn Simon: Shouting Is under Calling , Kunstmuseum Luzern, Switzerland, February 24–June 16, 2018

Artwork © Taryn Simon. Photo: Annik Wetter Photographie, courtesy Gagosian

Installation view, Taryn Simon: Rear Views, a Star-Forming Nebula, and the Office of Foreign Propaganda, Jeu de Paume, Paris, February 24–May 17, 2015 Artwork © Taryn Simon. Photo: Romain Darnaud, courtesy Jeu de Paume

Installation view, Taryn Simon: Rear Views, a Star-Forming Nebula, and the Office of Foreign Propaganda, Jeu de Paume, Paris, February 24–May 17, 2015

Artwork © Taryn Simon. Photo: Romain Darnaud, courtesy Jeu de Paume

Installation view, Taryn Simon: A Living Man Declared Dead and Other Chapters, Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin, September 21, 2011–January 1, 2012 Artwork © Taryn Simon. Photo: David von Becker, courtesy Neue Nationalgalerie

Installation view, Taryn Simon: A Living Man Declared Dead and Other Chapters, Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin, September 21, 2011–January 1, 2012

Artwork © Taryn Simon. Photo: David von Becker, courtesy Neue Nationalgalerie

Installation view, Taryn Simon: A Soldier Is Taught to Bayonet the Enemy and Not Some Undefined Abstraction, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen, Dresden, Germany, October 27, 2016–January 15, 2017 Artwork © Taryn Simon. Photo: David Pinzer, courtesy Staatliche Kunstsammlungen, Dresden

Installation view, Taryn Simon: A Soldier Is Taught to Bayonet the Enemy and Not Some Undefined Abstraction, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen, Dresden, Germany, October 27, 2016–January 15, 2017

Artwork © Taryn Simon. Photo: David Pinzer, courtesy Staatliche Kunstsammlungen, Dresden

Installation view, Taryn Simon: A Soldier Is Taught to Bayonet the Enemy and Not Some Undefined Abstraction, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen, Dresden, Germany, October 27, 2016–January 15, 2017 Artwork © Taryn Simon. Photo: David Pinzer, courtesy Staatliche Kunstsammlungen, Dresden

Installation view, Taryn Simon: A Soldier Is Taught to Bayonet the Enemy and Not Some Undefined Abstraction, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen, Dresden, Germany, October 27, 2016–January 15, 2017

Artwork © Taryn Simon. Photo: David Pinzer, courtesy Staatliche Kunstsammlungen, Dresden

Installation view, Taryn Simon: An American Index of the Hidden and Unfamiliar, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Denmark, October 29, 2016–January 15, 2017 Artwork © Taryn Simon. Photo: Poul Buchard/Broendum & Co, courtesy Louisiana Museum of Modern Art

Installation view, Taryn Simon: An American Index of the Hidden and Unfamiliar, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Denmark, October 29, 2016–January 15, 2017

Artwork © Taryn Simon. Photo: Poul Buchard/Broendum & Co, courtesy Louisiana Museum of Modern Art

Installation view, Taryn Simon: Rear Views, a Star-Forming Nebula, and the Office of Foreign Propaganda, Jeu de Paume, Paris, February 24–May 17, 2015 Artwork © Taryn Simon. Photo: Romain Darnaud, courtesy Jeu de Paume

Installation view, Taryn Simon: Rear Views, a Star-Forming Nebula, and the Office of Foreign Propaganda, Jeu de Paume, Paris, February 24–May 17, 2015

Artwork © Taryn Simon. Photo: Romain Darnaud, courtesy Jeu de Paume

Installation view, Taryn Simon: Paperwork and the Will of Capital, United Nations, 2016 Treaty Event, New York, 2016 Artwork © Taryn Simon. Photo: courtesy the artist and Gagosian

Installation view, Taryn Simon: Paperwork and the Will of Capital, United Nations, 2016 Treaty Event, New York, 2016

Artwork © Taryn Simon. Photo: courtesy the artist and Gagosian

Installation view, Taryn Simon: A Living Man Declared Dead and Other Chapters, Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing, October 15, 2013–January 5, 2014 Artwork © Taryn Simon. Photo: Peter Lo, courtesy Ullens Center for Contemporary Art

Installation view, Taryn Simon: A Living Man Declared Dead and Other Chapters, Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing, October 15, 2013–January 5, 2014

Artwork © Taryn Simon. Photo: Peter Lo, courtesy Ullens Center for Contemporary Art

About

Archives exist because there’s something that can’t necessarily be articulated. Something is said in the gaps between all the information.
—Taryn Simon

Taryn Simon directs our attention to familiar systems of organization—bloodlines, criminal investigations, flower arrangements—making visible the contours of power and authority hidden within. Incorporating mediums ranging from photography and sculpture to text, sound, and performance, each of her projects is shaped by years of rigorous research and planning, including obtaining access from institutions as varied as the US Department of Homeland Security and Playboy Enterprises, Inc.

Born in New York, where she lives and works, Simon received a BA in semiotics from Brown University in 1997. In 2001 she was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship for what would become her first major photographic and textual work: The Innocents (2002), which was exhibited at MoMA PS 1. Documenting cases of wrongful conviction in the United States, The Innocents calls into question photography’s function as a credible eyewitness and arbiter of justice.

In 2007 Simon’s series An American Index of the Hidden and Unfamiliar (2007) was presented at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. The photographs depict objects, sites, and spaces that are integral to America’s foundation, mythology, and daily functioning, but that remain inaccessible or unknown. These subjects include radioactive capsules at a nuclear waste storage facility, a black bear in hibernation, and the art collection of the CIA. The following year Simon began A Living Man Declared Dead and Other Chapters I–XVIII (2011), for which she traveled the world researching and recording bloodlines and their related stories. In each of the work’s twenty-eight “chapters,” the external forces of territory, power, circumstance, and religion collide with the internal forces of psychological and physical inheritance. The subjects documented by Simon include victims of genocide in Bosnia, test rabbits infected with a lethal disease in Australia, the first woman to hijack an aircraft, and the “living dead” in India. Her collection is at once cohesive and arbitrary, mapping the relationships among chance, blood, and other components of fate. For Contraband (2010), Simon spent a week at JFK International Airport in New York, photographing the goods that were seized as they entered the US from abroad. An archive of global desires and perceived threats, Contraband encompasses 1,075 images of items set against crisp pale gray backgrounds. A formal inverse of these works can be found in Black Square (2006–), in which Simon isolates objects, documents, and individuals within a black field with precisely the same measurements as Kazimir Malevich’s 1915 Suprematist work of the same name.

In 2012–13 Simon began work on Image Atlas (2012­–) and The Picture Collection (2013–), projects that bridge physical and digital archives. The former, created with computer programmer Aaron Swartz, investigates cultural differences and similarities by indexing top image results for given search terms across local search engines throughout the world. The latter was inspired by the New York Public Library’s picture archive, whose 1.2 million printed images, organized under more than 12,000 subject headings, comprise the largest circulating picture library in the world. In 2013 Simon also produced Birds of the West Indies, a two-part series that takes its title from a taxonomy by American ornithologist James Bond. Part I is a visual inventory of the women, weapons, and vehicles appearing in the film franchise featuring the fictional British spy James Bond; this visual database of interchangeable variables used in the production of fantasy examines the economic and emotional value generated by their repetition.  In Part II, Simon identifies, photographs, and classifies every bird that appears in the first twenty-four James Bond films. Simon pored over every scene to discover these moments of chance, training her eye away from the agents of seduction—glamour, luxury, power, violence, sex—to look only in the margins.

In Paperwork and the Will of Capital (2015), Simon re-created centerpieces from official photographs of international political signings, underscoring how the stagecraft of power is created, performed, marketed, and maintained. The signings that inform the series involve the countries that were present at the 1944 United Nations Monetary and Financial Conference, in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, which addressed the globalization of economies after World War II and led to the establishment of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. The concrete flower presses comprising the series’ sculptural component were included in the 2015 Venice Biennale. The following year Simon presented her first performance work, An Occupation of Loss (2016), in which professional mourners enact rituals of grief, broadcasting their lamentations from within a sculptural installation. Their sonic mourning is performed in recitations that include northern Albanian laments, which seek to excavate “uncried words”; Wayuu laments, which safeguard the soul’s passage to the Milky Way; Greek Epirotic laments, which bind the story of a life with its afterlife; and Yezidi laments, which map a topography of displacement and exile. Performed in New York in 2016 and in London in 2018, An Occupation of Loss probes the anatomy of loss and the intricate systems used to manage contingencies of fate and the uncertain universe.

Performance continues to intersect with Simon’s photographic work. Her 2018 exhibition at MASS MoCA, North Adams, Massachusetts, included two performance-based works, A Cold Hole (2018) and Assembled Audience (2018). In the former, Simon transports the ancient ritual of cold water immersion into the museum, inviting the public to seek the uncertain opportunity for a quick fix. Cold-water plunges’ long history of notable participants includes Apache leader Geronimo, who employed cold-water immersion to prepare boys for manhood and battle; biologist Charles Darwin; and Russian President Vladimir Putin. The shock of plunging into freezing water overrides thought and elicits from participants a gasp like that experienced during sudden death, sleep arrhythmia, and birth. Assembled Audience probes the phenomenon of engineered applause. Over a one-year period, Simon recorded the claps of individuals attending events at the three largest venues in Columbus, Ohio, a city nicknamed “Test City, USA" because its demographics so closely mirror those of the nation as a whole. She layered these recordings into a dense soundscape that plays in a darkened space, gathering individuals with divergent political, corporate, and ideological allegiances into a single crowd that surrounds the viewer. The MASS MoCA exhibition also featured the first major museum installation of Simon’s bookwork, a central aspect of her carefully researched multimedia work.

Taryn Simon

Photo: courtesy the artist and MASS MoCA

Website

tarynsimon.com

Fairs, Events & Announcements

Taryn Simon, A Cold Hole, 2018, installation view, MASS MoCA, North Adams, Massachusetts, May 26, 2018–March 24, 2019. Artwork © Taryn Simon

In Conversation

Taryn Simon
Kate Fowle

Thursday, July 25, 2019, 12:30pm
Anderson Ranch Arts Center, Snowmass Village, Colorado
www.andersonranch.org

Taryn Simon will discuss the way she directs our attention to familiar systems of organization—bloodlines, criminal investigations, mourning, flower arrangements—and makes visible the hidden contours of power and authority with curator Kate Fowle. To attend the event, register at www.andersonranch.org.

Taryn Simon, A Cold Hole, 2018, installation view, MASS MoCA, North Adams, Massachusetts, May 26, 2018–March 24, 2019. Artwork © Taryn Simon

Taryn Simon, Bird corpse, labeled as home décor, Indonesia to Miami, Florida (prohibited) from Animal Corpses (Prohibited), Animal Parts (Prohibited), Animal Skeletons (Prohibited), Animal Specimens (Prohibited), Snails (Prohibited), Butterflies (Prohibited) from the series Contraband, 2010 © Taryn Simon

In Conversation

Taryn Simon
Louise Neri

Tuesday, May 28, 2019, 6–7pm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia
www.ngv.vic.gov.au

Taryn Simon will be in conversation with Gagosian director Louise Neri at the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne, Australia. The evening will include reflections on key bodies of work including An American Index of the Hidden and Unfamiliar, Contraband, A Living Man Declared Dead and Other Chapters I–XVIII, A Polite Fiction, Paperwork and the Will of Capital, and her recent performance works An Occupation of Loss and A Cold Hole. The pair will be introduced by Dr. Simon Maidment, senior curator of contemporary art at NGV. The free event has reached capacity. To join the wait list, contact programs@ngv.vic.gov.au.

Taryn Simon, Bird corpse, labeled as home décor, Indonesia to Miami, Florida (prohibited) from Animal Corpses (Prohibited), Animal Parts (Prohibited), Animal Skeletons (Prohibited), Animal Specimens (Prohibited), Snails (Prohibited), Butterflies (Prohibited) from the series Contraband, 2010 © Taryn Simon

Taryn Simon, The Central Intelligence Agency, Displayed Art CIA Original Headquarters Building, Langley, Virginia, 2006–07, from the series An American Index of the Hidden and Unfamiliar, 2007 © Taryn Simon

In Conversation

Taryn Simon
Shannon Simon

Taryn Simon will speak with Shannon Simon as part of the 2019 National Geographic Storytellers Summit. This multiday event in Washington, DC, celebrates written and visual storytellers whose craft changes people’s understanding of the world. Watch the Storytelling Symposium (January 16, 2019, 1–5pm) and Photography Seminar (January 17, 2019, 9am–5pm) live on YouTube.

Taryn Simon, The Central Intelligence Agency, Displayed Art CIA Original Headquarters Building, Langley, Virginia, 2006–07, from the series An American Index of the Hidden and Unfamiliar, 2007 © Taryn Simon

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Museum Exhibitions

Taryn Simon, Agreement to form a Palestinian national unity government. Mecca, Saudi Arabia, February 8, 2007, from the series Paperwork and the Will of Capital, 2015 © Taryn Simon

Closing this Week

Taryn Simon in
Durch die Blume–Florale Metamorphosen

Through July 21, 2019
Kunstverein Heilbronn, Germany
www.kunstverein-heilbronn.de

In celebration of the Federal Horticultural Show, which in 2019 takes place in Heilbronn, Kunstverein Heilbronn is hosting Durch die Blume–Florale Metamorphosen, which examines Yves Bélorgey’s depictions of everyday architecture from the 1950s, ’60s, and ’70s and pairs it with the themes of gardens and parks. Work by Taryn Simon is included.

Taryn Simon, Agreement to form a Palestinian national unity government. Mecca, Saudi Arabia, February 8, 2007, from the series Paperwork and the Will of Capital, 2015 © Taryn Simon

Taryn Simon, Cryopreservation Unit, Cryonics Institute, Clinton Township, Michigan, 2004–07, from the series An American Index of the Hidden and Unfamiliar, 2007 © Taryn Simon

On View

Taryn Simon in
The Future Starts Here

Through August 4, 2019
ArkDes, Stockholm
arkdes.se

The Future Starts Here brings together groundbreaking technologies and designs currently in development in studios and laboratories around the world. Visitors are guided by a series of ethical and speculative questions to connect the subject matter to the choices that we all face in our everyday lives. This show originated at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. Work by Taryn Simon is included.

Taryn Simon, Cryopreservation Unit, Cryonics Institute, Clinton Township, Michigan, 2004–07, from the series An American Index of the Hidden and Unfamiliar, 2007 © Taryn Simon

On View

What is an edition, anyway?

Through September 7, 2019
McEvoy Foundation for the Arts, San Francisco
www.mcevoyarts.org

What is an edition, anyway? explores the traditions, conditions, and inventive expressions of the contemporary artist’s multiple. Photography, performance, illustration, technology, and installation further explore the notion of the edition as an idea reproduced in limited quantities. Work by Richard Prince and Taryn Simon is included.

Taryn Simon, New York Times, Friday, November 11, 2016, 2017 © Taryn Simon

On View

Taryn Simon in
Leonard Cohen: A Crack in Everything

Through September 8, 2019
Jewish Museum, New York
thejewishmuseum.org

This multidisciplinary exhibition combining visual art, virtual reality, installations, performances, music, and writing offers the public a collection of new work commissioned from and created by local and international artists who have been inspired by Leonard Cohen’s style and recurring themes. This exhibition originated at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal. Work by Taryn Simon is included.

Taryn Simon, New York Times, Friday, November 11, 2016, 2017 © Taryn Simon

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Press

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