Young (36-year-old) photographer Taryn Simon's exhibition drew me in, if I'm to be frank, because it was free. But upon reflection her collection, A Living Man Declared Dead and Other Chapters, is most definitely worth paying for.
The exhibition at Tate Modern, London (as well as the Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin and Museum of Modern Art, New York)was produced over a four-year period (2008-11), during which Simon travelled around the world researching and recording bloodlines and their related stories. As a journalist, it was this documented style that I found so intriguing. You could see the time, research, effort and concentration that had gone into each piece.
In each of the eighteen 'chapters' that make up the work, the external forces of territory, power, circumstance or religion collide with the internal forces of psychological and physical inheritance.
The subjects documented by Simon include feuding families in Brazil, victims of genocide in Bosnia, the body double of Saddam Hussein's son Uday, and the living dead in India. Her collection is at once cohesive and arbitrary, mapping the relationships among chance, blood, and other components of fate.
Not only an impressive collection of candid photographs, each paragraph is an enthralling -- often heartbreaking -- story of human plight.