Museum Folkwang is delighted to present, for the first time, a unique constellation of Taryn Simon’s main series The Innocents, An American Index of the Hidden and Unfamiliar and A Living Man Declared Dead and Other Chapters
I – XVIII.
A line from Bertold Brecht’s song Mack the Knife sets the tone of Taryn Simon’s new exhibition. The show’s title illustrates a central theme in the work of the US artist – making visible what has previously been concealed. The exhibition, compiled by the Artist herself from the outstanding holdings of the collector Thomas Olbricht, presents a first retrospective of the three key series that make up this remarkable contemporary position.
It was her piece The Innocents, that first shot the young photographer to international fame in the middle of the last decade. This series of portraits shows people who had been falsely convicted, at the scenes that are integral to their alleged crimes. Simon advanced these perspectives in the photographs that form the cycle An American Index of the Hidden and Unfamiliar: Focusing on a wide range of different phenomena and incidents, this project reveals objects, sites, and spaces integral to America's foundation, mythology, and daily functioning, yet inaccessible or unknown to the public.
Her latest body of work A Living Man Declared Dead and Other Chapters, which has already been exhibited in some of the world’s major museums, associates the coincidental nature of human fate with the accompanying social determination as a result of politics and world history, origin and class. Result of a global research the comprehensive saga composed of 18 chapters, six of which will be on show in Essen, moreover paints a picture of the historical distortions and global interweaving of people’s destinies at the beginning of the 21st century.
The common thread that runs through Taryn Simon’s versatile oeuvre is the manner in which the photographer illuminates the “Dark Side of Life”, thereby making visible things previously concealed and introducing issues not yet discussed into the social discourse. Moreover, what makes her work so exciting and innovative is the method in which she uses textual narrative to extend the image, how she combines photography and narrative to form an inseparable entity.
As such she represents one of the most important positions of an expanded concept of a critical documentary photographic approach and presents an answer to Brecht’s famous accusation that this medium was unaware of the social conditions at work behind the obvious.