Cataloguer of truth
The American artist-photographer Taryn Simon has built her career assembling hundreds of photographs into weirdly precise categories, such as ‘descendants of Hitler’s lawyer’ or ‘items confiscated from passengers at John F Kennedy International Airport’, thus revealing the hidden patterns behind seemingly random images.
As Guest Editor, she focused on two projects: the online Image Atlas, which compares by country the image results delivered by internet search engines; and The Picture Collection, based on the New York Public Library’s image archive. ‘It is a beautiful and precious thing,’ says Simon. ‘Every single image has been curated, and I just shot what was in each folder.’
For her latest work, An Occupation of Loss, she invited 30 professional mourners from around the world to perform in New York in 2016, and getting them there became part of the show. CS
Taryn Simon, An Avatar, 2008
Simon revisited this artwork, showing a composite political figure created from original photographs of world leaders she took between 2003 and 2008. The artist travelled within Syria, Cuba, the US, Lebanon, Israel, France and Palestine to collect the component parts. As resonant now as it was a decade ago,
An Avatar raises questions about power, authority, veracity and semblance