Taryn Simon: An Occupation of Loss

“One of the leading artists to understand our moment in history.”
Interview Magazine

Taryn Simon is an enigmatic and groundbreaking artist whose practice involves rigorous research and investigation into the power and structure of secrecy, often underscoring our operational and emotional vulnerabilities. A conceptual artist working primarily with image and text, Simon breaks form with her first ever directed performance in which she considers the anatomy of grief and the intricate systems that we devise to contend with the irrationality of the universe.

Each night at sundown, more than thirty professional mourners populate Simon’s sculptural installation, broadcasting their lamentations. The status of the lamenters as professionals—performing away and apart from their usual contexts—underscores the tension between authentic and staged emotion, spontaneity and script. Open during the daytime, visitors are invited to activate the sculpture of inverted wells with their own sounds.  A subtle drone created from distilled recordings of the mourners’ rituals provides a white noise that echoes the evening performances.

The resulting work blends sculpture, sound, architecture, and performance in a monumental exploration of the boundaries of grief between living and dead, past and present, performer and viewer.

Artistic Concept and Direction: Taryn Simon
Installation Design and Architecture: Taryn Simon in collaboration with Shohei Shigematsu/OMA
Lighting Design: Urs Schönebaum
Production Consultant: Marianne Weems
Consultant:  Ida Nicolaisen, Professor Emeritus of Cultural Sociology, Copenhagen University
Installed by Art Domantay Artworks LLC and More Specialized Transport Inc.


Commissioned by Park Avenue Armory and Artangel.

An Occupation of Loss is supported in part by the VIA Art Fund, Agnes Gund, and by public funds from the National Endowment for the Arts.


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September 14–25, 2016


September 13–25, 2016

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