weißer Tiger in einem Käfig
© Taryn Simon, Gargosian Gallery

Taryn Simon. A Soldier is Taught to Bayonet the Enemy and not Some Undefined Abstraction

“The enemy loomed large as the most popular subject in picture requests all year. Since a soldier is taught to bayonet the enemy and not some undefined abstraction, he must learn to recognize that enemy; he must go into battle armed with visual knowledge of the face of the enemy and the contour of his lands.”
(1942 Annual Report, Picture Collection records, The New York Public Library)

  • DATES 27/10/2016—15/01/2017

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Simon‘s work reveals the imperceptible space between language and the visual world—a space in which multiple truths and fantasies are constructed, and where translation and disorientation continually occur. The artist makes use of photography’s power to stage, record, collect, and reproduce. The impersonal, neutral tone of Taryn Simon’s anchoring texts lend the images an air of objectivity and reliability. By drawing attention to the complex interrelationship between text and image, the artist highlights habits of inference and judgment, while also revealing the fictional dimensions of facts. Simon also often invokes the form of the archive to impose an illusion of structural order on the chaotic and indeterminate nature of her subjects. The technical realization, the image aesthetics and the final presentation of her images and texts reflect the control and authority, that are the very subject of her work.

weißer Tiger in einem Käfig
© Taryn Simon, Gargosian Gallery
Taryn Simon, White Tiger (Kenny), 2006/2007 Chromogenic color print, 37-1/4 x 44-1/2 inches framed (94.6 x 113 cm), Ed. of 7.

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These projects result from rigorous research that often takes years, from An American Index of the Hidden and Unfamiliar (2007), depicting objects, sites, and spaces that are integral to America‘s foundation, mythology, and daily functioning, but that remain inaccessible or unknown; Image Atlas (2012) and The Picture Collection (2013) that explore the human impulse to archive and organize visual information, pointing to the invisible hands behind seemingly neutral systems of image gathering; Cutaways (2012), which records the end of an interview between Simon and “Prime Time Russia,” exposing the manipulations behind apparently factual news presentations; Contraband (2010), which presents an archive of global desires and perceived threats, encompassing 1,075 images of items that were detained or seized from airline passengers and postal mail entering the United States, and the ongoing Black Square (2006–), a project focused on the consequences of man’s inventions.

This exhibition of Taryn Simon’s work turns away from the presentation of physical bodies at the center, and focuses on things – or rather on the moment when seemingly neutral objects enter into systems of control. Simon’s use of typology reflects how visual material, language, and graphic design are used to produce knowledge, authority, and ultimately history.


An exhibition organized in collaboration with Galerie Rudolfinum, Prague.

The exhibition is substantially supported by the Gesellschaft für Moderne Kunst in Dresden e.V., with special donations from Axel and Barbara Bauer, Heckschen & van de Loo, and Sebastian Piper.

[Translate to English:] weitere Ausstellungen

Further Exhibitions

Josef-Hegenbarth Archiv

im Josef-Hegenbarth-Archive


im Schloss Pillnitz

gelber Kasten mit vier Füßen


im Residenzschloss

Portrait eines Mannes mit Hut und Vollbart
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