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Kim Tschang-Yeul: Art Without Ego Ocula Conversation Kim Tschang-Yeul: Art Without Ego

Kim Tschang-Yeul turns 90 this December, following an illustrious career that played a crucial role in bringing post-war Korean painting into the modern and contemporary art canon. Long celebrated for pensive depictions of water drops, the esteemed artist uses dual languages of abstraction and hyperrealism to articulate the psychological traumas...

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Melati Suryodarmo: Performance Art as Trigger Ocula Conversation Melati Suryodarmo: Performance Art as Trigger

In 2012, Melati Suryodarmo opened Studio Plesungan in her native Surakarta, also known as Solo, the historic royal capital of the Mataram Empire of Java in Indonesia. Suryodarmo had returned to Indonesia from Germany, where she studied Butoh and choreography with Butoh dancer and choreographer Anzu Furukawa, time-based media with avantgarde...

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In a Year of No Future: Cyberpunk at Hong Kong’s Tai Kwun Ocula Report In a Year of No Future: Cyberpunk at Hong Kong’s Tai Kwun 22 Nov 2019 : Emily Verla Bovino for Ocula

In what was reportedly Tokyo's cloudiest summer in over a century this July, Yoshiji Kigami, key animator of the cyberpunk classic Akira (1988), died in an arson attack that killed 35 people at Kyoto Animation. The attacker lit the fire with a lighter after dousing the studio with gasoline. 'They are always stealing', he explained in the belief the...

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Hans Hartung and Art Informel: Exhibition Walkthrough Ocula Insight | Video
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Hans Hartung and Art Informel: Exhibition Walkthrough 15 October 2019

Hans Hartung and Art Informel at Mazzoleni London (1 October 2019-18 January 2020) presents key works by the French-German painter while highlighting his connection with artists active in Paris during the 50s and 60s. In this video, writer and historian Alan Montgomery discusses Hartung's practice and its legacy.Born in Leipzig in 1904, Hans...

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Taryn Simon

b. 1975, USA

Taryn Simon is a multidisciplinary artist who works in photography, text, sculpture and performance. She was born and raised in New York, where she has been working since her graduation from Brown University in 1997. Informed by extensive research, Simon’s work investigates the implications of power and cultural infrastructures in the modern world.

Simon’s work shows a trajectory of her interest in documentary, as evidenced by her photographic projects from the 2000s. In 2002, The Innocence Project supported her to travel across the US to photograph and interview individuals who had been wrongly convicted. Titled ‘The Innocents’, the collection of portraits appeared as a book alongside the interviews and commentary from civil rights attorneys Peter Neufeld and Barry Scheck. Simon then earned critical acclaim for An American Index of the Hidden and Unfamiliar, published in 2007: a catalogue of images of sites that are inaccessible or unknown to the public. Through her large-format photographs of nuclear waste capsules in the southeast of Washington, a Scientology screening room, and the headquarters of the Ku Klux Klan, Simon has compelled the audience to face the dark realities beneath the surface of America: realities they are oblivious to or simply choose to ignore.

By organising her photographs through a laborious process of classification and categorisation that resembles archiving, Simon highlights the insignificant and the overlooked. In Birds of the West Indies (2013–14) (Part 2)—named after the taxonomy of the American ornithologist James Bond—Simon followed Bond’s taxonomical footsteps in documenting and identifying all the birds in the 24 James Bond franchise movies. Working meticulously from screenshots taken of the birds’ split-second appearances, Simon ended up with 331 identifications. Image after image of birds force the viewer’s gaze away from the flamboyance of the films to focus on the forgotten avians. Like the sheer number of birds in James Bond films (and despite the dominating presence of the franchise), the entities overshadowed by the mainstream—be they human lives, plants or animals—must be innumerable.

Simon’s photographic investigation of cultures extends outside the US. A Living Man Declared Dead and Other Chapters I–XVIII (2008–11) traces 18 family bloodlines, each with an unusual narrative. Ranging from the bloodline of a living Indian man who was declared dead in official records to that of Hans Frank—the personal legal advisor to Adolf Hitler—the series weaves complex narratives together with Simon’s characteristic archiving system. 

Similarly, An Occupation of Loss—a performance piece inaugurated in September 2016 at the Park Avenue Armory, New York—invited more than 30 professional mourners from different parts of the world to perform grieving rituals inside 11 concrete towers. Represented cultures included Cambodia, China, Greece and Ghana. The performance paid respect to the differences ways in which cultures cope with life and death, and to humankind’s universal concern for proper farewells. Alongside the performance, Simon also compiled into a catalogue the petitions sent to the US government to obtain each mourner’s visa. Many were denied, prompting The New York Times to comment, ‘It might be easier to get a soul to heaven than to get a professional mourner to New York City.’ The US government had unknowingly played an active role in the creation of the work. An Occupation of Loss also took on a sociopolitical meaning when, following the 2016 presidential election a few months later, the country’s immigration laws began to shift drastically. 

One of the most important photographers of her generation, Simon has exhibited in the US, Europe and China. In 2015, she exhibited in the 56th Venice Biennale. Permanent collections include The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Tate Modern, Whitney Museum of American Art, Centre Pompidou and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. She is a Guggenheim Fellow and a recipient of the 2017 Photo London Master of Photography, which is awarded to a leading contemporary photographer.

Biography by Sherry Paik | Ocula | 2017
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Featured Artworks

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Chapter V Censored, Living Man Declared Dead and Other Chapters I – XVIII Censored Edition by Taryn Simon contemporary artwork
Taryn SimonChapter V Censored, Living Man Declared Dead and Other Chapters I – XVIII Censored Edition Matte Black Paint on wall, 3 rectangles matching exact size of physical work
213.4 x 301.7 cm
Not For Sale
Duddell's
Honey Ryder (Nikki van der Zyl) by Taryn Simon contemporary artwork
Taryn SimonHoney Ryder (Nikki van der Zyl), 1962, 2013 Single Channel Video (8 minutes, loop) and Letraset on wall
Variable dimensions
Almine Rech
Azerbaijan by Taryn Simon contemporary artwork
Taryn SimonAzerbaijan, 2014 4 black & white images
50.2 x 93.3 cm
Almine Rech

Recent Exhibitions

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Contemporary art exhibition, Taryn Simon, A Burn Scar Visible from Space at Gagosian, London
Closed
19 August–21 September 2019 Taryn Simon A Burn Scar Visible from Space Gagosian, Davies Street, London
Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, An Exhibition For Notre-Dame at Gagosian, Paris
Closed
11 June–27 July 2019 Group Exhibition An Exhibition For Notre-Dame Gagosian, Paris
Contemporary art exhibition, Taryn Simon, Paperwork and the Will of Capital at Almine Rech, Brussels
Closed
8 September–5 November 2016 Taryn Simon Paperwork and the Will of Capital Almine Rech, Brussels

Represented By

In Ocula Magazine

Gregor Muir, Princess Alia Al-Senussi and Abdullah AlTurki Ocula Conversation Gregor Muir, Princess Alia Al-Senussi and Abdullah AlTurki Co-curators, 'Duddell's presents: ICA Off-Site: Hong Kongese

Duddell’s, the restaurant and bar which has also become one of Hong Kong’s most important art spaces, recently collaborated with London’s Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) to present the exhibition, Duddell’s Presents: ICA Off-Site: Hong Kongese. The exhibition, which opened earlier this year to coincide with Art Basel...

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Yokohama Triennale 2014 'Art Fahrenheit 451: Sailing Into The Sea Of Oblivion' Ocula Report Yokohama Triennale 2014 'Art Fahrenheit 451: Sailing Into The Sea Of Oblivion' 16 Sep 2014 : Becca Voelcker for Ocula

At the height of McCarthyism, American writer Ray Bradbury published his dystopian novel Fahrenheit 451 which describes life in a near future where all books are burned on the orders of the state. Extrapolating from the situation of censorship that he felt pervaded 1950s America, Bradbury imagined a fleet of ‘firemen’ who ignite all...

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In Related Press

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OBSCURING THE INDEX Related Press OBSCURING THE INDEX Gagosian Quarterly : 15 November 2019

Like the museum, Simon catalogues objects and information under specific organising principles: symmetry, crispness of detail, and refined, minimal installation. Through this highly careful mode of tracing, depicting, and presenting, she both mirrors the systems she sets out to examine and surpasses them in her rigorous application of their logic....

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From Mortal Bodies to Immortal Crowds Related Press From Mortal Bodies to Immortal Crowds Gagosian Quarterly : 1 November 2019

In her recent shift toward performance, large-scale installation, and sound, Simon raises new questions about the role of the living, breathing body as an agent within the increasingly pervasive, even ritualised photographic technologies of the past decade. In An Occupation of Loss, which had its second iteration in London in April 2018, she...

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The art of the beautiful game: football moves off pitch and into the museum Related Press The art of the beautiful game: football moves off pitch and into the museum Wallpaper* : 16 June 2018

Football has many guises. It is a pastime where schoolboys scrape knees in a courtyard; a tear-jerking symbol of national pride; a multi-billion dollar industry with corporate interest.

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Mass Moca takes the plunge with Taryn Simon's ice-water installation Related Press Mass Moca takes the plunge with Taryn Simon's ice-water installation The Art Newspaper : 24 May 2018

Enthusiasm, delight and 'how are you going to do that?': these are common reactions to Taryn Simon's planned commission at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (Mass Moca) in North Adams, says its curator, Allie Foradas.

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In Video & Audio

Taryn Simon on the art of mourning and how social media is shaping grief Related Video & Audio Taryn Simon on the art of mourning and how social media is shaping grief Wallpaper* : 17 April 2018

Having gathered professional mourners from around the world to perform their laments in New York in 2016, artist and erstwhile Wallpaper* Guest Editor Taryn Simon is now bringing her groundbreaking artwork to London, opening this evening. We caught up with Simon in midst of rehearsals to talk about grief, performance and ephemerality.

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