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Summer Serious: Taryn Simon at MoMA

Art & Design

‘Mapping the relationships among chance, blood, and other components of fate.’

We’ll never get the crazy popularity of Cindy Sherman, or the fact that her self-portraits sell for millions. What? So she dresses up like different typecasts of people and shoots herself….isn’t that just special make-up effects, not “art”?

And so we go for Taryn Simon, whom we first met up with while staging a sultry summer bathing suit spread at the long-gone Detour magazine. The story was called “Can’t We All Just Get a Thong?” and I think it caused heart palpitations in both men and women alike. It was shot at (I’m pretty sure), her mom’s Westchester County-woodsy home. Though titillating, there was just so much more going on.

Like many fashion photographers, Simon has gone artsy, but in the best of ways. Her new show is major for any photographer, being at MoMa and all, (she also shows at the formidable Gagosian.)

Before you head to the beach, hit the AC at the Museum of Modern Art and catch what Simon’s been up to. Here’s the MoMA’s heady description, but go for the depth of perception and some truly frightening imagery (India’s “living dead!!) to boot:

“This exhibition is the U.S. premiere of Taryn Simon’s (b. 1975, New York) photographic project A Living Man Declared Dead and Other Chapters I–XVIII. The work was produced over a four-year period (2008–11), during which the artist traveled around the world researching and documenting bloodlines and their related stories.

In each of the 18 “chapters” that make up the work, external forces of territory, power, circumstance, or religion collide with the internal forces of psychological and physical inheritance. 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.”

“Taryn Simon: A Living Man Declared Dead and Other Chapters I–XVIII,” through September 3, at the Robert and Joyce Menschel Photography Gallery, third floor. Check out the slideshow at: