Taryn Simon and Ana Fernandez
Taryn Simon: A Living Man Declared Dead and Other Chapters I-XVIII
Museum of Modern Art, New York
May 2 - September 3, 2012
Produced over the span of four years (2008-11), artist Taryn Simon’s A Living Man Declared Dead and Other Chapters I-XVIII is the result of her globetrotting research project (twenty-five countries made up her itinerary) into bloodlines and their stories. Simon’s tracking down of hundreds of living descendants of a single story-propelling male or female is not simply genealogical—she also traces the connections between people established by fate. Nine of the projects eighteen chapters are currently on view at MoMA and are each made up of three segments; portraits of the bloodline (portrait panel); text (annotation panel); and a third featuring photographic evidence (footnote panel). The first woman to hijack an aircraft, genocide victims in Bosnia, and diseased Australian rabbits are just a few of the subject’s of Simon’s project that maps relationships between ‘chance, blood, and other components of fate.’ Notions of the oft-mentioned archive are conjured in the chapters, both in a formal sense and the larger conceptual underpinnings of the project. This classification process, which photography is particularly adept at demonstrating, loom large in Simon’s exhibition with the intersections between external politics and personal psychology colliding to startling effect. Photographic ‘truth’ is problematized in this context; where complex and often mysterious narrative’s and familial connections run head-long into the idea of ‘evidence’ embedded within the images and text. Find your way to MoMa for Simon’s exhibition, you won’t be disappointed.
Eric Zimmerman is an artist and Editor of ...might be good.
Ana Fernandez: Real Estates and Other Fictions
Women & Their Work, Austin
May 10 – June 21, 2012
San Antonio has a unique culture that sets it apart from other Texas cities. The first things that come to mind are the usual suspects: the Alamo, the Riverwalk, the historic buildings and the blend of Mexican and American culture. But as a San Antonio native myself, Ana Fernandez’s paintings struck a strong chord of familiarity in the nuanced and rundown neighborhoods that are her primary subject matter. Realistically rendered and straightforwardly composed, the paintings act more as portraiture than landscape, even with the lack of people. Instead are the things they choose to represent themselves: the color of their homes, their Christmas decorations, the decals on their car. There is an underlying humor in the imagery which lends itself to the fictional quality of the work as you question motives behind certain decorative choices; generating questions about society’s overall need to embellish the bare necessities of home, travel and even our bodies. What kind of person lives here? Who would put that in their yard? This retrospective aura is heightened by the fact that many of the scenes take place at night or on a neutral, cloudy day, which pushes everything into sheer spooky. The way Fernandez handles light and translucency is enough to induce goosebumps. As you voyeuristically gaze onto the façade of these strangers’ homes, you can imagine that somewhere behind that pink curtain or tinted car window, someone is looking straight at you with an arched eyebrow, wondering what you’re doing there.
Emily Ng is an artist and Production Associate at Fluent~Collaborative.