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Paperwork and the Will of Capital

Taryn Simon
Hatje Cantz
Co-published by Gagosian

Texts by Hanan al-Shaykh,, Daniel E. Atha, Kate Fowle, Nicholas Kulish


198 pages
262 x 340 mm
ISBN 978-3-7757-4157-6


Taryn Simon in conversation:

In Paperwork and the Will of Capital, Taryn Simon (* 1975)—one of the most original and challenging conceptual artists of our time—brings together geopolitics, horticultural science, and the art of still life to investigate how the stagecraft of power is created, performed, marketed, and maintained. At signings of political accords, contracts, treaties, and decrees determining some of the gravest issues of our time, powerful men flank floral centerpieces curated to convey the importance of the signatories and represented institutions. Simon reconstituted and photographed the flower arrangements from archival images of key events; she then dried and pressed the flowers as herbarium specimens. This sumptuous book, part nature study, part metaphor, bears witness to an elaborate and intriguing process of artistic deconstruction and reconstruction.

About the Artist
Taryn Simon directs our attention to familiar systems of organization—bloodlines, criminal investigations, flower arrangements—making visible the contours of power and authority hidden within. Incorporating mediums ranging from photography and sculpture to text, sound, and performance, each of her projects is shaped by years of rigorous research and planning, including obtaining access from institutions as varied as the US Department of Homeland Security and Playboy Enterprises, Inc.

Born in New York, where she lives and works, Simon received a BA in semiotics from Brown University in 1997. In 2001 she was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship for what would become her first major photographic and textual work: The Innocents (2002), which was exhibited at MoMA.

About the Publisher
In this very moment we are experiencing something unprecedented: the transformation of the art book into an art object. On the one hand, the continual pressure from  the market to manufacture books less expensively and make them more affordable can’t be denied. On the other, there is increasing demand for durability, solidity, and quality. The art book itself is becoming a valuable collector’s item. Who wants to acquire a catalogue, an artist’s book, or a catalogue raisonné without believing it will still be a jewel in one’s book collection a decade from now?

It’s this kind of book that we at Hatje Cantz believe in and that we enjoy producing for you: books that live on.

Further Reading