Joseph Nyamwanda Jura Ondijo is a Kenian, superstitious healer, who has 9 wives, 32 children and 63 grandchildren. Latif Yahia declares to have acted as the body double of Uday Hussein. After taking Thalidomin, Dorothy Gallagher gave birth to disabled triplets. Shivdutt Yadav is alive, yet officially dead, because other Indian farmers are stealing his land. For her exhibition "A Living Man Declared Dead and Other Chapters" Taryn Simon - a beautiful, 36-year old photographer from New York - researches tragic stories from all over the world. She collects portraits in front of neutral backgrounds, information about each individual and their "footnotes," which are items or pictures delivering further insights into their lives. These three categories are ordered in panels, and each panel-trio is ordered in chapters, making a total of 18 international stories.
Equipped with a newspaper-sized information sheet, the visitors frequently shift between reading the indiviuals' thoroughly researched stories and examining their facial gestures, their expressions, their clothes. Almost in an autistic manner, Simon orders the protagonists in a time- and blood-line, following generations and observing their lives. Internal and external influences, as war, sickness, family fights, genetic drawbacks are sorted in periodic tables. But her work is more than a social analysis - it is sensitive, neutral and modest, not screaming for attention, but emphasizing each persons' past and possible future. Simon asks questions that no one can answer, creating her very own mind-map: "We are all steadily heading towards death. (...) people are born and people die. The stories keep on coming. (...) I guess I am trying to organise it for myself." (Taryn Simon, Tate Interview)
Taryn Simon - "A Living Man Declared Dead and Other Chapters"
22nd of September 2011 - 1st of January 2012
Neue Nationalgalerie Berlin
Potsdamer Straße 50
Opening times: Tuesday - Friday 10am-6pm, Thursday to 10pm, Saturday and Sunday 11am-6pm
Related Links: www.gagosian.com/artists/taryn-simon/
The exhibition has travelled from London's Tate Modern to Berlin and will move on to New York's MoMa in January.