Taryn Simon, "A Living Man Declared Dead and Other Chapters I-XVIII" at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA in LA

Having read the previous post those who know Taryn Simons work questioned why did we not mention her latest series "A Living Man Declared Dead and Other Chapters I-XVIII". This is probably a very good finish to this weeks topic. To conclude Taryn Simons extensive Museum Exhibition oeuvre of the past year, she is currently exhibiting this series at "The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA" in Los Angeles making it the first experience on the west coast of her home country. A Living Man Declared Dead and Other Chapters I-XVIII is an elaborately constructed photographic work, produced over a four-year period (2008–11), during which the artist travelled around the world researching and documenting “bloodlines” and their related stories. In each of the “chapters” that make up the work, the 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. Each of the 18 chapters of A Living Man Declared Dead I-XVIII is comprised of three segments; the first segment is a large portrait series systematically presenting individuals directly related by blood. The sequence of portraits is structured to include the living ascendants and descendants of a single individual. Here, Simon also shows empty portraits, representing living members of a bloodline who could not be photographed. The portraits are followed by a text panel, in which the artist constructs narratives and collects details about the distinct bloodlines. She also notes the reasons for the absences in the portrait panel, which include imprisonment, military service, dengue fever, and women not being granted permission to be photographed. The last segment is Simon’s “footnote” panel, comprising images that expand and locate the stories in each of Simon’s chapters. “With this project, Simon explores the systemization of images,” said MOCA Associate Curator Rebecca Morse. “But in her hands, rather than simplifying and codifying her subjects, she reveals their individual and complicated stories.” The exhibition opened  October 21, 2012, and is on view through January 7, 2013.

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