../Morning Post
Posted September 25, 2009
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Ted Talks

Taryn Simon photographs secret sites



Taryn Simon exhibits her startling take on photography -- to reveal worlds and people we would never see otherwise. She shares two projects: one documents otherworldly locations typically kept secret from the public, the other involves haunting portraits of men convicted for crimes they did not commit.

With a large-format camera and a knack for talking her way into forbidden zones, Taryn Simon photographs portions of the American infrastructure inaccessible to its inhabitants.

With An American Index of the Hidden and Unfamiliar, Taryn Simon goes on the hunt for America's dirty secrets. Gaining entrance to places as diverse as a white tiger breeding facility, the JFK Airport quarantine area, abortion clinics and virus-research labs, Simon shows the things that are integral to America's foundation, mythology and daily functioning, but remain inaccessible or unknown to a public audience. In her earlier book, The Innocents, she shot portraits of more than 80 wrongly accused death-row inmates who were exonerated by DNA testing, and investigated photography's role in that process.

Simon's passion for the hidden echoes the career of her father, an ex-State Department photographer specializing in the documentation of Soviet cities during the Cold War and similarly confidential subjects. But Simon's photographs stretch beyond mere documentation. Brimming with radiant light, unsettling atmosphere and sinister implications, they pulse with artistic mystery.

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