The global award in photography and sustainability

An American Index of the Hidden and Unfamiliar

For this project, Taryn Simon assumes the dual role of shrewd informant and collector of curiosities, compiling an inventory of what lies hidden and out-of-view within the borders of the United States. She examines a culture and its development through careful documentation of diverse subjects from the realms of science, government, medicine, entertainment, nature, security, and religion. Transforming the unknown into a seductive and intelligible form, Simon confronts the divide between those with and without the privilege of access.

Simon makes use of the annotated-photograph’s capacity to engage and inform the public. Through text and image, the work underscores the complicated relationship between a photograph and its context. The visual is processed aesthetically and then redefined by its text.

Her sometimes ethereal, sometimes foreboding compositions, shot with a large-format view camera over a four-year period, vary as much as her subject matter, which ranges from radioactive capsules at a nuclear waste storage facility to a black bear in hibernation. In examining that which is integral to America’s foundation, mythology and daily functioning, Simon creates a collection of works that reflect and reveal a national identity.

Taryn Simon