With a large-format camera and a knack for talking her way into forbidden zones, Taryn Simon photographs portions of the American infrastructure inaccessible to its inhabitants.

Why you should listen

With An American Index of the Hidden and Unfamiliar, Taryn Simon goes on the hunt for America's dirty secrets. Gaining entrance to places as diverse as a white tiger breeding facility, the JFK Airport quarantine area, abortion clinics and virus-research labs, Simon shows the things that are integral to America's foundation, mythology and daily functioning, but remain inaccessible or unknown to a public audience. In her earlier book, The Innocents, she shot portraits of more than 80 wrongly accused death-row inmates who were exonerated by DNA testing, and investigated photography's role in that process.

But Simon's photographs stretch beyond mere documentation. Brimming with radiant light, unsettling atmosphere and sinister implications, they pulse with artistic mystery.

After having been premiered at the Tate Modern in London and at Berlin's Neue Nationalgalerie in 2011, Taryn's work, titled "A Living Man Declared Dead and Other Chapters", will be at MoMA in New York from May 2nd to September 3rd, 2012. 

Read design mind's Q&A with Taryn Simon >>

What others say

"She clearly delights in exposing, in a quasitabloid fashion, America's underbelly." — Bridget L. Goodbody, New York Times

Taryn Simon’s TED talks

Taryn Simon on the TED Blog

Photographing secret sites: Taryn Simon on TED.com

September 24, 2009

Taryn Simon exhibits her startling take on photography — to reveal worlds and people we would never see otherwise. She shares two projects: one documents otherworldly locations typically kept secret from the public, the other involves haunting portraits of men convicted for crimes they did not commit. (Recorded at TEDGlobal 2009, July 2009, in Oxford, […]

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Taryn Simon at TEDGlobal 2009: Running notes from Session 8

July 23, 2009

Taryn Simon at TEDGlobal 2009, Session 8: July 23, 2009, in Oxford, UK. Credit: TED / James Duncan Davidson Taryn Simon is a photographer whose subjects are often as fascinating as her images. This morning, she launches into a series of photographs from her amazing collection An American Index of the Hidden and Unfamiliar. She […]

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Twitter Snapshot: Taryn Simon shows the hidden and unfamiliar

July 23, 2009

Photographer Taryn Simon goes to places few people ever get to see. She’s photographed everything from a white tiger breeding facility to abortion clinics. Her shocking talk astounded the crowd on Twitter: Taryn Simon’s talk is dense with details on the background of her photos. The context is the story. Eclectic. — bwdumars Incestuous white […]

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Quotes from Taryn Simon

In this project, I wanted to … find an absolute catalog, something that I couldn't interrupt, curate or edit by choice. This led me to blood.
Taryn Simon
TEDSalon London Fall 2011 • 686K views Apr 2012
Fascinating, Informative
I was interested in … whether our fate is determined by blood, chance or circumstance.
Taryn Simon
TEDSalon London Fall 2011 • 686K views Apr 2012
Fascinating, Informative
Archives exist because there's something that can't necessarily be articulated. Something is said in the gaps between all the information.
Taryn Simon
TEDSalon London Fall 2011 • 686K views Apr 2012
Fascinating, Informative