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Taryn Simon was born in New York in 1975.
Simon's artistic medium consists of three equal elements: photography, text, and graphic design. Her works investigate the impossibility of absolute understanding and opens up the space between text and image, where disorientation occurs and ambiguity reigns.
A Living Man Declared Dead and Other Chapters I-XVIII was produced over a four-year period (2008-11), during which Simon travelled around the world researching and recording bloodlines and their related stories. In each of the eighteen 'chapters' that make up the work, the external forces of territory, power, circumstance or 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.
Contraband (2010), is an archive of global desires and perceived threats, presenting 1,075 images of items that were detained or seized from passengers and mail entering the United States from abroad. An American Index of the Hidden and Unfamiliar (2007), reveals objects, sites, and spaces that are integral to America's foundation, mythology, or daily functioning but remain inaccessible or unknown to a public audience. These unseen subjects range from radioactive capsules at a nuclear waste storage facility to a black bear in hibernation to the art collection of the CIA. The Innocents (2003) documents cases of wrongful conviction in the U.S., calling into question photography's function as a credible witness and arbiter of justice.
Simon's photographs and writing have been the subject of monographic exhibitions at institutions including Museum of Modern Art, New York (2012); Tate Modern, London (2011); Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin (2011).