Taryn Simon has been on my radar for the last four to five years, ever since she first came to my attention at the first photo-london held in 2004 where the Gagosian Gallery showed a couple of her portraits from The Innocents series. At the time I was struck by the quality of her work, conceptually and aesthetically. Now you can catch Taryn Simon on video from her July 23, 2009 lecture at TEDGlobal 2009.
In this talk: “Taryn Simon exhibits her startling take on photography — to reveal worlds and people we would never see otherwise. She shares two projects: one documents otherworldly locations typically kept secret from the public, the other involves haunting portraits of men convicted for crimes they did not commit. With a large-format camera and a knack for talking her way into forbidden zones, Taryn Simon photographs portions of the American infrastructure inaccessible to its inhabitants.”
Sit back, relax, get yourself a drink (whatever your tipple) and take the time to watch and listen to this lecture. It’s 17 mins long and absolutely worth the time.
Follow this link Taryn Simon photographs secret sites – the comments are worth reading also.
The photograph of Tim Durham Skeet shooting, Tulsa, Oklahoma, 2002. 11 alibi witnesses placed Durham at a skeet-shooting competition at the time of the crime. Served 3.5 years of a 3,220 year sentence for Rape and Robbery, (scroll to the end of the page to see this photo) and other portraits from the series haunted me. And, as I delved deeper I discovered, to my delight, that the entire body of work was just as compelling.
Simon was nominated for the Deutsche Börse Photography Prize 2009 for her next body of work An American Index of the Hidden and Unfamiliar and, although she stood an outside chance, I hoped she’d pick up the prize. Paul Graham was odds on to win – and did. I reviewed her book An American Index of the Hidden and Unfamiliar, which I highly recommend.
I also interviewed Simon for a feature which was published in the Danish Journal of Photography & Video KATALOG (published by the Museet for Fotokunst). Simon was engaging, astute and a pleasure to interview. If you haven’t heard of Simon, or know only a little, then I urge you to take this opportunity to watch this clip.