A storyteller and researcher driven by the mutability of fact and the documentary potential of fiction, Taryn Simon directs our attention to systems of organization—bloodlines, circulating picture collections, mourning rituals, ceremonial flower arrangements—revealing the structures of power and authority hidden within. Working in photography, sculpture, text, sound, performance, and installation, she traces lineages of objects, families, nations, and histories.
Launched in spring 2020 as a weekly platform, the Artist Spotlight series is now in its second season and is presented as a regular part of the gallery’s programming. Each Artist Spotlight highlights work by an individual artist, alongside new editorial features and selected archival content.
Artist Spotlight: Taryn Simon features a new work by the artist. For more information, please contact the gallery at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo: Brigitte Lacombe
Taryn Simon and Teju Cole
This spring, as part of the Lambert Family Lecture Series at the Wexner Center for the Arts, Taryn Simon joined Teju Cole for an online conversation about her artistic practice and creative process.
Taryn Simon: An Occupation of Loss
In Taryn Simon’s performance work An Occupation of Loss (2016), professional mourners enact rituals of grief, simultaneously broadcasting their lamentations from within a sculptural installation. This video by filmmaker Boris B. Bertram documents the April 2018 performance of this work with Artangel in Islington, London.
From Mortal Bodies to Immortal Crowds
Two immersive installations by Taryn Simon presented at MASS MoCA in 2018–19 examined the rituals of cold-water plunges and applause. Text by Angela Brown.
Obscuring the Index
Taryn Simon’s 2016 exhibitions spanned the globe. Angela Brown brings us highlights from six museums.
Gagosian Quarterly Fall 2022
The Fall 2022 issue of Gagosian Quarterly is now available, featuring Jordan Wolfson’s House with Face (2017) on its cover.
The New York Public Library’s Picture Collection
Joshua Chuang, the Robert B. Menschel Senior Curator of Photography at the New York Public Library, discusses the institution’s singular Picture Collection, the artist Taryn Simon’s rigorous engagement with it, and four instances of its little-known role in the history of art making.
The Color of a Flea’s Eye: The Picture Collection
July 14–September 11, 2021
976 Madison Avenue, New York
Paperwork and the Will of Capital
February 18–March 26, 2016
555 West 24th Street, New York
Taryn Simon’s Cutaways (2012) is available online from June 23 through July 22 as part of Artist Spotlight: Taryn Simon. At the close of the taping of a video interview for Prime Time Russia in Moscow, Simon was asked to sit in silence and stare at the newscasters for several minutes so that the producers could gather additional footage for the editing process. Cutaways presents this footage as an autonomous work.
Taryn Simon, Cutaways, 2012 © Taryn Simon
Taryn Simon’s large-scale outdoor sculpture The Pipes (2016–21) will be on long-term view at MASS MoCA, in North Adams, Massachusetts, starting on June 26, 2021. What began as an oversize concrete instrument for a cacophony of global mourning in Simon’s work An Occupation of Loss (2016) will be populated by the sounds, collective call-and-response, and movements of a living public. The eleven structures that make up the installation—which Simon designed in collaboration with Shohei Shigematsu of the architecture firm OMA—offer the public an immersive experience and a sacred space for reflection, impromptu performance, and stargazing.
View of Taryn Simon’s The Pipes (2016–21) prior to installation at MASS MoCA, North Adams, Massachusetts. Artwork © Taryn Simon. Photo: Will McLaughlin, courtesy MASS MoCA
Taryn Simon on “Black Square”
In this video produced by Artforum, Taryn Simon discusses her Black Square series (2006–), an ongoing project in which she photographs objects, documents, and individuals against a black field of precisely the same dimensions as Kazimir Malevich’s 1915 Suprematist work of the same name. Simon also speaks about the most recent addition to the series, Black Square XXIV (2020)—a portrait of Joe Biden, whom she photographed at the White House during the first term of his vice presidency, in 2009. Speaking in the days leading up to the 2020 US presidential election, she notes how this still-unfolding event had changed and would continue to change the ways we might view this image.
Still from “Taryn Simon on ‘Black Square’”
Taryn Simon in
Selections from the Collection
Through April 30, 2023
George Eastman Museum, Rochester, New York
Since the invention of photography, the documentation of war has been a subject of interest to the camera and consumers. People have long relied on photographs to view and grapple with the harsh realities of war and conflict. This selection ranges from the Crimean War (1853–56) to the Afghanistan War (2001–21). The works challenge us to think critically about how photography documents and disseminates information about war, and how photographers’ approaches to recording war has shifted over time. Work by Taryn Simon is included.
Taryn Simon, Imperial Office of the World Knights of the Ku Klu Klan (KKK), Sharpsburg, Maryland, 2007, from the series An American Index of the Hidden and Unfamiliar, 2007 © Taryn Simon
Taryn Simon in
16th Biennale de Lyon: Manifesto of Fragility
September 14–December 31, 2022
Various locations in Lyon, France
Manifesto of Fragility, curated by Sam Bardaouil and Till Fellrath for the 16th Biennale de Lyon in France, explores fragility as one of few universally felt truths in our divided world. Ten photographs from Taryn Simon’s series, Paperwork and the Will of Capital (2015), are included in the exhibition, among the work of more than two hundred artists. In the series, Simon addresses the instability of executive decision-making and the precarious nature of survival by examining accords, treaties, and decrees drafted to influence systems of governance and economics. All involve the countries present at the 1944 United Nations Monetary and Financial Conference, which addressed the globalization of economies after World War II.
Installation view, 16th Biennale de Lyon: Manifesto of Fragility, Fagor Factory, Lyon, France, September 14–December 31, 2022. Artwork © Taryn Simon. Photo: Blaise Adilon
It Begins with an Idea
April 23–November 27, 2022
Fondazione Prada, Venice
Curated by Udo Kittelmann in collaboration with Taryn Simon, this exhibition fills three floors of Ca’ Corner della Regina and is the result of an in-depth research process carried out with Fondazione Prada and a scientific board chaired by Giancarlo Comi and composed of physicians, philosophers, scientists, and researchers. It is part of a multidisciplinary project of the same name launched by Fondazione Prada in November 2020 and centering on the brain, a unique organ due to the complexity of its functions, which are fundamental in the characterization of human beings.
Installation view, Human Brains: It Begins with an Idea, Fondazione Prada, Venice, April 23–November 27, 2022. Artwork © Taryn Simon. Photo: Marco Cappelletti, courtesy Fondazione Prada
Taryn Simon in
Alter + Ego
June 30–October 29, 2022
Eres Foundation, Munich
In a world in which scientific developments offer new opportunities for extending human life spans and optimizing our bodies’ physical performance, this exhibition presents artistic approaches that illuminate the promises of various aspects of “human enhancement” and explore ideas around how we come to terms with aging and the ephemeral nature of life itself. 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