Taryn Simon / from Paperwork and the Will of Capital
The work of Taryn Simon (b. 1975) results from rigorous research guided by an interest in systems of categorization and the precarious nature of survival. A multidisciplinary artist who has worked in photography, text, film, sculpture, and performance, Simon turns our attention to the margins of power, where control, disruption, and the contours of its constructedness become visible.
My works continually mutate under different politics, economies, cultures and times … These disruptions and time’s passage are part of the work.
Taryn Simon / Paperwork and the Will of Capital (various)
Simon reveals the imperceptible space between language and the visual world—a space in which multiple truths and fantasies are constructed, and where translation and disorientation occur. The technical, physical, and aesthetic realization of her projects often reflects the control and authority that are the very subject of her work. Often invoking the form of the archive, Simon imposes the illusion of order on the chaotic and indeterminate nature of her subjects.
Taryn Simon / A Living Man Declared Dead and Other Chapters
The works on view in Luzern date from 2008 to 2017 and include her recent series Paperwork and the Will of Capital (2015), on view in Switzerland for the first time.
A Living Man Declared Dead and Other Chapters I–XVIII was produced over a four-year period (2008–11), during which Simon traveled the world researching and recording bloodlines and their related stories. In the eighteen “chapters” that make up the work, the external forces of territory, power, circumstance, and religion collide with the internal forces of psychological and physical inheritance.
An archive of global desires and perceived threats, Contraband (2010) encompasses 1,075 images of items that were detained or seized from airline passengers and postal mail entering the United States over the course of one week.
Field Guide to Birds of the West Indies (2014) takes its title from the definitive taxonomy of the same name by the American ornithologist James Bond (1980-1989). Simon casts herself as the ornithologist, identifying, photographing, and classifying all the birds that appear within the 24 films of the James Bond franchise. The artist forces the viewer’s gaze away from the agents of seduction—glamour, luxury, power, violence, sex—to look only in the margins.
Taryn Simon / The Picture Collection
The Picture Collection (2013) was inspired by the New York Public Library’s picture archive, which contains 1.2 million prints, postcards, posters, and printed images. It is one of the largest circulating picture libraries in the world, organized according to a complex cataloging system of over 12,000 subject headings. Simon sees this extensive archive of images as a precursor to Internet search engines. In The Picture Collection, Simon highlights the human impulse to archive and organize visual information and points to the invisible hands behind seemingly neutral systems of image gathering.
The title of the exhibition in Luzern Shouting Is Under Calling is pulled from an archival document from the New York Public Library’s picture collection. The document, internally referred to as a “Librarian Cheatsheet”, is an in-house reference document compiled by the picture collection’s custodians as a way to help locate terms often requested by the public. Curated by Fanni Fetzer.