Taryn Simon

Another quick summary on photographers’ approach to their work. This time on Taryn Simon.

  • Dubbed “an Annie Leibovitz of the conceptual world” (Globe & Mail)
  • She mixes politics, science and anthropology with aesthetics and formalism in her work
  • Her work requires a lot of planning, research and writing the accompanying texts
  • Her work is intentionally disorienting and rather bland
  • She uses a deadpan approach to her portraiture so that she doesn’t convey her own convictions to the viewers and also to encourage her viewers to engage fully with the images
  • The use of text with her images plays a large role in defining her work. She is interested in the space between text and image, which helps to create the narrative.
  • She uses rather scientific methods of presenting her work. In her oevre A Living Man Declared Dead and Other Chapters her portraits are presented as a periodic table, the backgrounds are all grey and any outside influences have been “erased” (Tateshots)
  • Batchen states: ‘the paragraph or two that Simon writes to accompany each image could be said to furnish each subject even more than the image itself does’
  • In describing her work to Batchen Simon says: ‘You arrive at the work visually and digest it as an aesthetic object, often not knowing what you’re looking at. You then discover the text, which centers your focus and allows you to rediscover the image. The two play back and forth in this manner until you move on to the next’.

Reference List

Adams, James (2015). Photographer Taryn Simon on broadening her work beyond the lens [online]. The Globe and Mail. Available from: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/arts/art-and-architecture/photographer-taryn-simon-on-broadening-her-work-beyond-the-lens/article27693058/ [Accessed 26 February, 2016]

Batchen, Geoffrey and McClister, Neil. Taryn Simon [online]. Museo Magazine. Available from: http://www.museomagazine.com/TARYN-SIMON [Accessed 26 February, 2016]

Taryn Simon [vidcast, online]. TateShots. 3/6/2011. 6 mins 3 secs. Available from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lBatctT7iFo (accessed 26/02/2016)


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