Taryn Simon at the MAC
For MOMENTA | Biennale de l’image
Montreal, September 6, 2017 – The Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal is proud to present, as part of MOMENTA | Biennale de l’image (formerly Le Mois de la Photo à Montréal), Taryn Simon – Paperwork and the Will of Capital. This exhibition, the first solo presentation of the artist in Canada, will be held from September 7 to November 19. The opening will take place at the MAC, on September 7, at 7:30 p.m., in the presence of the artist.
This exhibition is a continuation of the collaboration between Taryn Simon and the MAC. The Museum has previously acquired in 2015 a work by the artist, of the series Paperwork and the Will of Capital, which is among the works selected for this exhibition at the MAC. In addition, the Museum welcomed the artist for a conference in 2016, as part of the Canadian Art Foundation International Speaker Series. Taryn Simon is also featured as an invited artist for the upcoming exhibition Leonard Cohen – Une brèche en toute chose / A Crack in Everything, opening next November 9, at the MAC.
Paperwork and the Will of Capital
In signings of political accords, contracts, treaties, and decrees, powerful men flank floral centerpieces curated to convey the importance of the signatories and the institutions they represent. In Paperwork and the Will of Capital, Taryn Simon recreated these centerpieces, photographing each against background and foreground colors keyed by the original decor of the historic ceremonies.
Using as a point of departure the historic United Nations Monetary and Financial Conference in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire in 1944, Paperwork and the Will of Capital reexamines subsequent accords drafted to influence aspects of governance and economics, from nuclear armament to oil deals and diamond trading. By pairing her own photographs of the reconstructed floral arrangements with texts describing the individual accords, Simon’s work examines how the stagecraft of power is created, performed, marketed, and maintained.
Each of the recreated floral arrangements represents an “impossible bouquet”— a concept that emerged in Dutch still-life painting parallel to the country’s seventeenth-century economic boom, which ushered the development of modern capitalism. The impossible bouquet, a collection of flowers that could never bloom naturally in the same season and geographic location, is an artificial fantasy made real in Simon’s photographs thanks to the globalization of the modern flower industry.
Simon worked with archival records and a botanist to identify all the flowers present at the signing of each accord. She imported more than 4000 floral and plant specimens from Aalsmeer Flower Auction, the world’s largest flower auction, to her studio where she remade, as far as possible, the floral arrangements from each signing. After each arrangement was assembled and photographed twelve times afresh, the specimens were dried, pressed, and sewn to archival herbarium paper. A set of these botanical collages were then placed in concrete presses, juxtaposed with archival inkjet prints of their photographic likenesses and text references in a race against time.
Guided by an interest in taxonomic systems, Paperwork and the Will of Capital involves extensive research into the power and structure of secrecy and the precarious nature of survival, as well as the reliability and endurance of records: the accords and their far-reaching effects, Simon’s photographs, and the preserved botanical specimens. As time advances, so do these artifacts transform, revealing mutable and unstable versions of themselves.
Taryn Simon (b. 1975) is a multidisciplinary artist working in photography, text, sculpture and performance. Guided by an interest in systems of categorization and classification, her practice involves extensive research into the power and structure of secrecy and the precarious nature of survival. Simon’s works have been the subject of exhibitions at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Copenhagen (2016-17); The Albertinum, Dresden (2016); Galerie Rudolfinum, Prague (2016); Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, Moscow (2016); Jeu de Paume, Paris (2015); Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing (2013); Museum of Modern Art, New York (2012); Tate Modern, London (2011); Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin (2011); and Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2007).
Permanent collections include Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Tate Modern, London; the Guggenheim Museum, New York; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles. Her work was included in the 56th Venice Biennale (2015). Simon’s installation, An Occupation of Loss (2016), co-commissioned by the Park Avenue Armory and Artangel, premiered in New York in 2016. Simon is a graduate of Brown University and a Guggenheim Fellow. She lives and works in New York.
- A conversation between Taryn Simon and the curator, Ami Barak, will take place on September 8 at 12 p.m.
- As part of MOMENTA, the public is invited to discover the portfolios of 15 off-program artists on October 14 between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. at the Beverley Webster Rolph Hall of the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal. This activity offers a different view of the vitality of the local art scene.
- MOMENTA Passports holders will be granted a $5.00 discount on an admission ticket at the MAC, and a 15 % discount on a MAC membership card (MACarte). MOMENTA Passports are available at La Vitrine box office (online: www.lavitrine.com/activity/Passeport_MOMENTA). Admission for MAC members is free.
For its 15th edition, MOMENTA has joined forces with curator Ami Barak, who has developed an outstanding program on the theme What Does the Image Stand For? The 2017 edition of MOMENTA explores the concept of photographic and videographic evidence for the prosecution, whether images are still or in motion, raising the question of images as avatars, and focusing on the fantastical and sublimated aspects of the reality that they convey. The 38 artists in this biennale invite us not to accept their testimony uncritically. The biennale comprises three segments. The first, which corresponds to the central exhibition at our headquarters, focuses on the work of 23 artists and is being presented at two sites: Galerie de l’UQAM and VOX, centre de l’image contemporaine. The second consists of 14 solo exhibitions spread throughout the city. And the third is an exhibition of documents located at Artexte.
MOMENTA is also a vast program of public activities, talks, projections, and encounters, as well as many opportunities to meet the artists and see their works. The biennale would be incomplete without its catalogue, co-produced with the prestigious publishing house Kerber Verlag, which brings together texts by the curator and five authors who address the question What Does the Image Stand For?
The MOMENTA detailed program is available for free at all the exhibition partners and on www.momentabiennale.com.
About the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal (MAC)
Located in the heart of the Quartier des Spectacles, the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal (MAC) makes today’s art a vital part of Montréal and Québec life. For more than fifty years, this vibrant museum has brought together local and international artists, their works and an ever-growing public. It is also a place of discovery, offering visitors experiences that are continually changing and new, and often unexpected and stirring. The MAC presents temporary exhibitions devoted to outstanding and relevant current artists who provide their own particular insight into our society, as well as exhibitions of works drawn from the museum’s extensive Permanent Collection. These may feature any and every form of expression: digital and sound works, installations, paintings, sculptures, ephemeral pieces, and more. In addition to its wide range of educational activities familiarizing the general public with contemporary art, the MAC organizes unique artistic performances and festive events. It is a window onto a myriad of avant-garde expressions that extend the reach of art throughout the city and beyond.
For nearly 30 years, Le Mois de la Photo à Montréal has been offering a stimulating framework within which to study current practices, evolutions, and issues associated with the still and moving image in Western culture, and to take the pulse of trends in contemporary image making. Renamed MOMENTA | Biennale de l’image in 2017, the organization plays a crucial role in the local, national, and international ecology of the visual arts community. Through its curatorial approach, renowned guest curators develop rigorous artistic programming based on relevant themes; the biennale enjoys a well-established reputation in its city and country, as well as abroad. It actively contributes to the recognition of Canadian artists – who comprise more than 50% of the artists in each edition – by presenting their work within an international context, in association with 15 exhibition partners. In 7 editions, the organization has exhibited more than 2,000 works by 400 artists, and welcomed almost 22 million visitors. www.momentabiennale.com