Taryn Simon. Larry Mayes. Scene of arrest, The Royal Inn, Gary, Indiana, Police found Mayes hiding beneath a mattress in this room. Served 18.5 years of an 80-year sentence for Rape, Robbery and Unlawful Deviate Conduct. 2002. Chromogenic print. 48 x 62 in. © Taryn Simon. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery
Taryn Simon. Nuclear Waste Encapsulation and Storage Facility, Cherenkov Radiation, Hanford Site, U.S. Department of Energy, Southeastern Washington State. 2005/2007. Chromogenic print. 37 ¼ x 44 ½ in. Submerged in a pool of water at Hanford Site are 1,936 stainless-steel nuclear-waste capsules containing cesium and strontium. Combined, they contain over 120 million curies of radioactivity. It is estimated to be the most curies under one roof in the United States. The blue glow is created by the Cherenkov Effect which describes the electromagnetic radiation emitted when a charged particle, giving off energy, moves faster than light through a transparent medium. The temperatures of the capsules are as high as 330 degrees Fahrenheit. The pool of water serves as a shield against radiation; a human standing one foot from an unshielded capsule would receive a lethal dose of radiation in less than 10 seconds. Hanford is among the most contaminated sites in the United States. © 2007. Taryn Simon / Courtesy Steidl / Gagosian
Taryn Simon. Cryopreservation Unit, Cryonics Institute, Clinton Township, Michigan. 2004/2007 Chromogenic print. 37 ¼ x 44 ½ in. © Taryn Simon. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery This cryopreservation unit holds the bodies of Rhea and Elaine Ettinger, the mother and first wife of cryonics pioneer, Robert Ettinger. Robert, author of The Prospect of Immortality and Man into Superman is still alive. The Cryonics Institute offers cryostasis (freezing) services for individuals and pets upon death. Cryostasis is practiced with the hope that lives will ultimately be extended through future developments in science, technology, and medicine. When, and if, these developments occur, Institute members hope to awake to an extended life in good health, free from disease or the aging process. Cryostasis must begin immediately upon legal death. A person or pet is infused with ice-preventive substances and quickly cooled to a temperature where physical decay virtually stops. The Cryonics Institute charges $28,000 for cryostasis if it is planned well in advance of legal death and $35,000 on shorter notice. © 2007. Taryn Simon / Courtesy Steidl / Gagosian
Taryn Simon. White Tiger (Kenny), Selective Inbreeding, Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge and Foundation, Eureka. Springs, Arkansas. 2006/2007. Chromogenic print. 37 ¼ x 44 ½ in. © Taryn Simon. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery In the United States, all living white tigers are the result of selective inbreeding to artificially create the genetic conditions that lead to white fur, ice-blue eyes and a pink nose. Kenny was born to a breeder in Bentonville, Arkansas on February 3, 1999. As a result of inbreeding, Kenny is mentally retarded and has significant physical limitations. Due to his deep-set nose, he has difficulty breathing and closing his jaw, his teeth are severely malformed and he limps from abnormal bone structure in his forearms. The three other tigers in Kenny’s litter are not considered to be quality white tigers as they are yellow-coated, cross-eyed, and knock-kneed. © 2007. Taryn Simon / Courtesy Steidl / Gagosian
Taryn Simon. Nesting Dolls (counterfeit). 2010. 5 archival inkjet prints in Plexiglas box. Box: 9 ¼ x 37 ¼ x 2 ½ in. Each image: 6 ¼ inches squared. © Taryn Simon. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery
Taryn Simon. Cigarettes & Tobacco (abandoned / illegal / prohibited). 2010. 25 archival inkjet prints in 5 Plexiglas boxes. Each box: 9 ¼ x 37 ¼ x 2 ½ in. Each image: 6 ¼ inches squared. © Taryn Simon. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery
Taryn Simon. OCA (prohibited). 2010. 9 archival inkjet prints in Plexiglas box. Box: 9 ¼ x 8 ¼ x 2 ½ in. Each image: 6 ¼ inches squared. © Taryn Simon. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery
Taryn Simon. Pistols (unlicensed). 2010. 2 archival inkjet prints in Plexiglas box. Box: 9 ¼ x 15 ½ x 2 ½ in. Each image: 6 ¼ inches squared. © Taryn Simon. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery
Taryn Simon’s ambitious works are the result of a long process of research and investigation. Her photographs and writings underscore the invisible space between language and the visual world—a space in which translation and disorientation continually occur. The personal exhibition in MAMM is a collection of works from Simon’s major projects from 2002 to 2010.
The Innocents (2002) questions photography’s function as a credible eyewitness and arbiter of justice through portraits of individuals who were convicted of violent crimes they did not commit. Nonfiction (2003–05) consists of images depicting political and religious leaders, citizens and landscapes in territories such as Cuba, Lebanon, Indonesia, and Israel. An American Index of the Hidden and Unfamiliar (2007) comprises photographs and texts revealing objects and sites that are integral to America’s foundation, mythology, or daily functioning but remain inaccessible or unknown to the public. The fourth body of work, Contraband (2010), consists of 1,075 images depicting items detained or seized from passengers entering the United States from abroad over a five-day period, indexed and installed according to their official classification.
By drawing attention to the complex relationship between visual and verbal detail, these series underscore habits of inference and judgment. As the operation of civil institutions and the circulation of information become increasingly image-dependent, the concepts of access, knowledge, interpretation, and truth are frequently conflated. Simon’s art acknowledges this, and the fallacy of comprehension that photographs invite.