The New York-based artist Taryn Simon has long explored the relationship between individuals and the state. “I’m most interested in looking at the paperwork of power,” she once said. “Where are the boundaries in terms of what the public or myself can access or do within those limitations?” At first glance Simon’s work may seem innocently everyday, but the messages within her photographs are sociological and political. For this series, 12 years in the making, Simon sifted through the Picture Collection at the New York Public Library, an archive that collects visual references of every kind, filed under headings such as Handshaking, Police, Oxygen, Broken Objects, Abandoned Buildings & Towns. Simon took images from these files and assembled them into abstract tableaus, then photographed the result. These photos reveal fault lines of power, race, and gender. —E.C.
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