Taryn Simon Interview: Where the Secret Goes

Like a spy, American artist Taryn Simon uncovers the hidden places of the USA. Her work is a portrait of American society seen through the spaces that are foundational for America: religion, governance, security, law. Like the country itself, the meaning, says Simon, is “ever morphing.”

After the events of 9/11 the American media and government directed their attention towards hidden sites beyond its borders, most notably in the search for weapons of mass destruction. Simon, however, chose to look inward at her own country to confront the boundaries of the citizen, both self-imposed and real, and the divide between privileged and public access to knowledge. For years she worked “in absolute collaboration with systems of authority” to access spaces closed off to the public, investigating the limits of the public realm and trying to “push in as far as one can get.”

For her series ‘An American Index of the Hidden and Unfamiliar’ (2007) Simon collated her research into photographs – e.g. of a Playboy magazine in Braille, a living HIV virus – each one accompanied by text. “I was trying to create this space in between the image and the text, that space where we interpret, where there’s judgement, there’s translation, there’s manipulation, there’s the instability of fact,” Simon reflects. “The viewer has to do this dance between the text and the image where it’s constantly transforming in relation to the other.”

“The thing you can see so consistently is the process of research. The idea, the intricacy of all the steps and rejections and complexities along the way to actually realizing the work,” says Taryn Simon of her research-based work. Often years in the making, it can assume many forms: filmic, performative, architectural, but almost always accompanied by photography and writing · “an anchor point,” she says of the textual dimension of her works.

Taryn Simon (b. 1975) is an American artist who has worked in photography, text, sculpture, video, and performance. Simon’s works has been exhibited internationally at the 56th Venice Biennale, Italy, the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Museum of Modern Art in New York, USA, Tate Modern, London, UK, Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin, Germany and Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebæk, Denmark. Her work is included in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Guggenheim Museum, New York, USA, and Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France. For more about the artist please visit http://tarynsimon.com/.

Taryn Simon was interviewed by Marc-Christoph Wagner at her studio in New York, USA, in October 2016.

Camera: Rasmus Quistgaard
Edited by: Klaus Elmer
Produced by: Marc-Christoph Wagner
Copyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2016

Supported by Nordea-fonden

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