...you should definitely check out the work of Taryn Simon, if you haven’t already. Why? First of all, she has one of the coolest names. Ever. More importantly though, a friend of mine recommended her the other day and I’ve been obsessed ever since! Her most recent installation is exhibiting at The Museum of Modern Art in NY, called A Living Man Declared Dead and Other Chapters…and it’s blowing my MIND.
This TED talk says it all
I was talking to said friend the other day about how, if I were to ever get into a more ‘serious’ realm of photography, like actually learn as much as I possible can about my camera and then use those skills (you’re only as good as your knowledge of your tools, amiright?) I’d love to do portrait photography, just for the hell of it. I loveloveLOVE the work of people who do collections of strangers’ portraits, etc. In Simon’s case, A Living Man is a documentation of various bloodlines around the world, all chosen for different reasons. Her format is just perfect (that’s a pathetic attempt but honestly the best word I can come up with at this point): a panel of lineage portraits, a second panel of text detailing said portraits, and a third panel of “footnotes”, as she calls them; photos of other items that enhance or further explain the story within the family or conflict. I’m just…just…ahhhh! Her use of visual and textual media to create such a staunch yet powerful narrative are equal parts nauseatingly beautiful and awe-inspiring. Simply put, this woman is amazing.
So far, my favorite collections are (obviously) A Living Man, as well as The Innocents, which is a portrait collection of men and women convicted of crimes they didn’t commit. Her ability to compose such a compelling narrative with each photo WITHOUT even the sentence-long description is so fascinating. Two other bodies of work definitely worth checking out: An American Index of the Hidden and Unfamiliar, and Contraband. This TED talk gives a lot more insight on An American Index as well as The Innocents.
Sidenote: Simon has gained access to some of the most off-limits places in the world. I mean, the WORLD. She photographed Fidel Castro [slide 2] in 2003 (something I still can't get over) as well as the interior of his Palace of the Revolution[slide 1], AS WELL AS the wall between Israel and the West Bank [slide 13]. My brain is kind of bursting right now so I'm going to revisit the subject at a later time, but do yourself a solid and check this woman out!