Published by Hatje Cantz. Text by Daniel Baumann, Nico Baumbach.
In 1936 an American ornithologist named James Bond published the definitive taxonomy Birds of the West Indies. Ian Fleming, an active bird-watcher living in Jamaica, appropriated the name for his novel’s lead character. He found it "flat and colourless," a fitting choice for a character intended to be "anonymous ... a blunt instrument in the hands of the government." In Field Guide to Birds of the West Indies, Taryn Simon casts herself as James Bond (1900–89) the ornithologist, and identifies, photographs and classifies all the birds that appear within the 24 films of the James Bond franchise. The appearance of many of the birds was unplanned and virtually undetected, operating as background noise for whatever set they happened to fly into. Simon’s ornithological discoveries occupy a liminal space—confined within the fiction of the James Bond universe and yet wholly separate from it. This taxonomy of 331 birds is a precise consideration of a new nature found in an alternate reality. Taryn Simon (born 1975) is a multidisciplinary artist who has worked in photography, text, sculpture and performance. Guided by an interest in systems of categorization and classification, her practice involves extensive research into the power and structure of secrecy and the precarious nature of survival. Simon’s works have been the subject of monographic exhibitions at Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing (2013); The Museum of Modern Art, New York (2012); Tate Modern, London (2011); Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin (2011); and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2007). Permanent collections include The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Tate Modern, the Guggenheim Museum, Centre Georges Pompidou and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Her work is included in the 56th Venice Biennale (2015). She is a graduate of Brown University and a Guggenheim Fellow. Simon lives and works in New York.
Published by Hatje Cantz. Text by Hans Ulrich Obrist.
This publication reissues a much sought-after photobook. Taryn Simon is an American artist whose works combine photography, text and graphic design. Her practice involves extensive research, in projects guided by an interest in systems of categorization and classification. For Contraband, 1,075 photographs were taken at both the US Customs and Border Protection Federal Inspection Site and the US Postal Service International Mail Facility at John F. Kennedy International Airport, New York. From November 16 to November 20, 2009, Simon remained on site and continuously photographed items detained or seized from passengers and express mail entering the United States from abroad. The list of items includes pork, syringes, Botox, GBL date rape drug, heroin, imitation Lipitor, Ketamine tranquillizers, Lidocaine, Lorazepam, locust tree seed, ginger root, deer tongues, cow urine, Cohiba cigars and Egyptian cigarettes. The volume is published in three differently colored covers. Taryn Simon (born 1975) has been the subject of monographic exhibitions at Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing (2013); The Museum of Modern Art, New York (2012); Tate Modern, London (2011); Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin (2011); and Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2007). Her work is in the permanent collections of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Tate Modern, Whitney Museum of American Art, Centre Georges Pompidou and Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, and was included in the 54th Venice Biennale in 2011 and the Carnegie International in 2013. She is a graduate of Brown University and a Guggenheim Fellow. Simon lives and works in New York.
Published by Hatje Cantz. Text by Daniel Baumann, et al.
In 1936, an ornithologist called James Bond released the definitive taxonomy of birds found in the Caribbean, titled Birds of the West Indies. Ian Fleming, an active bird watcher living in Jamaica, subsequently appropriated the name for his novel’s lead character. This co-opting of names was the first in a series of substitutions that would become central to the construction of the James Bond narrative. In a meticulous and comprehensive dissection of the Bond films, artist Taryn Simon inventoried women, weapons and vehicles, constant elements in the films between 1962 and 2012. The contents of these categories function as essential accessories to the narrative’s myth of the seductive, powerful and invincible western male. Maintaining the illusion the narrative relies upon––an ageless Bond, state-of-the-art weaponry, herculean vehicles and desirable women––requires constant replacements, and a contract exists between Bond and the viewer, which binds the narrative to that set of expectations. Continually satisfying those obligations allowed Bond to become a ubiquitous brand, a signifier to be activated with each subsequent novel and film. In Birds of the West Indies, Simon presents a visual database of interchangeable variables used in the production of fantasy, through which she examines the economic and emotional value generated by their repetition. Taryn Simon was born in New York in 1975. She is a graduate of Brown University and a Guggenheim Fellow. Her photographs and writing have been the subject of solo exhibitions at institutions including The Museum of Modern Art, New York (2012), Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (2012); Tate Modern, London (2011); Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin (2011); Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2007) and P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, New York (2003). In 2011 her work was included in the 54th Venice Biennale.
Published by Hatje Cantz. Text by Ronald Dworkin, Tina Kukielski, Salman Rushdie, Elisabeth Sussman.
First published in 2008, and now commanding high prices second-hand, Taryn Simon’s An American Index of the Hidden and Unfamiliar reveals objects, sites and spaces that are integral to America’s foundation, mythology or daily functioning, but which remain inaccessible or unknown to a public audience. To make the more than 60 large-format photographs often required protracted negotiations before Simon was granted access to the sites. When circumstances permitted, she photographed with a large-format camera and careful lighting, emphatically not following the tradition of the journalistic snapshot. The photographs include radioactive containers in a storage facility for nuclear waste; the recreational facility of a high-security prison; the headquarters of the Ku Klux Klan with its Wizards, Night Hawks and Kleagles; a Scientology seminar room; MOUT, a facade city in Kentucky built as a training ground for urban warfare; the sealed-off halls of the CIA headquarters; a high-security research institute studying animal epidemics; and an operating room in which a Palestinian woman had her hymen (and thus her virginity) restored. Each image is accompanied by a brief text written by the artist, that precisely explains what is seen and why it is hidden or off-limits. Although An American Index of the Hidden and Unfamiliar forces us to confront the darker side of democratic society, it also conveys the fascination that attends the exploration of forbidden territories. Taryn Simon was born in New York in 1975. She has produced several books of photography and writing, including Contraband, The Innocents and A Living Man Declared Dead and Other Chapters. Other subjects documented by Simon include feuding families in Brazil, victims of genocide in Bosnia and the body double of Saddam Hussein’s son Uday.
A Living Man Declared Dead and Other Chapters I – XVIII was produced over a four-year period (2008-11), during which the artist, Taryn Simon, travelled around the world researching and recording bloodlines and their related stories. The subjects Simon documents 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.
Simon's presentation explores the struggle to determine codes and patterns embedded in the narratives she documents, making them recognizable as variations (versions, renderings, adaptations) of archetypal episodes from the present, past, and future. In contrast to the methodical ordering of a bloodline, the central elements of the stories – violence, resilience, corruption, and survival – disorient the highly structured appearance of the work. A Living Man Declared Dead and Other Chapters highlights the space between text and image, absence and presence, and order and disorder.
A Living Man Declared Dead and Other Chapters Texts by Homi K. Bhabha and Geoffrey Batchen Published by Gagosian Gallery, Wilson Center for Photography, and Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin 864 pages, with gatefolds and 1080 color plates; Hardcover 9.8 x 13.4 inches (25 x 34 cm)
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