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July 3rd - September 19th

Taryn Simon- LARRY MAYES, 2002

Taryn Simon

Taryn Simon’s practice is a stringent examination of the uses, non-uses, quasi-uses and misuses of photography in the institutions of society. The Innocents, for example, looks at the place of photography in the U.S. criminal justice system, documenting cases of wrongful convictions in which photography was in part culpable. More recently, An American Index of the Hidden and Familiar looks at hidden and off-limits spaces in the United States. As Simon told me, the series ‘confront(s) the divide between expert knowledge and public knowledge’.

Hans-Ulrich Obrist

The Innocents documents the stories of individuals who served time in prison for violent crimes they did not commit. At issue is the question of photography’s function as a credible eyewitness and arbiter of justice.

The primary cause of wrongful conviction is mistaken identification.

A victim or eyewitness identifies a suspected perpetrator through law enforcement’s use of photographs and lineups. This procedure relies on the assumption of precise visual memory. But, through exposure to composite sketches, mugshots, Polaroids and lineups, eyewitness memory can change. In the history of these cases, photography offered the criminal justice system a tool that transformed innocent citizens into criminals. Photographs assisted officers in obtaining eyewitness identifications and aided prosecutors in securing convictions.

Simon photographed these men at sites that had particular significance to their illegitimate conviction: the scene of misidentification, the scene of arrest, the scene of the crime or the scene of the alibi. All of these locations hold contradictory meanings for the subjects. The scene of arrest marks the starting point of a reality based in fiction. The scene of the crime is at once arbitrary and crucial: this place, to which they have never been, changed their lives forever. In these photographs Simon confronts photography’s ability to blur truth and fiction—an ambiguity that can have severe, even lethal consequences.

Exhibition produced with the collaboration of the Gagosian Gallery, New York.

Exhibition venue: Atelier de Mécanique, Parc des Ateliers.


Taryn Simon

Born in New York in 1975. Lives and works in New York.

Taryn Simon’s most recent work, An American Index of the Hidden and Unfamiliar, reveals that which is integral to America's foundation, mythology and daily functioning, but remains inaccessible or unknown to a public audience. Her earlier work, The Innocents, documents cases of wrongful conviction in the United States and investigates photography's role in that process. Simon's photographs have been exhibited nationally and internationally, including solo shows at: Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Museum Fur Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt; P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, New York; High Museum of Art, Atlanta; and Kunst-Werke Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin. Permanent collections include: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Tate Modern, London; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Centre Pompidou, Paris; Museum Fur Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt; and Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. She is a graduate of Brown University and a Guggenheim Fellow. Simon has been a visiting artist at Yale University, Bard College, Harvard University and Columbia University. Her photography and writing have been featured in numerous publications and broadcasts including The New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker, Ted.com, CNN, BBC and Frontline. Steidl recently published An American Index of the Hidden and Unfamiliar. She is represented by Gagosian Gallery.