Taryn Simons: An Occupation of Loss

Taryn Simons typical media of work usually deals with both text and photography, but in this piece An Occupation of Loss, she makes an installation that’s meant to be a performance piece.  This installation she did was done alongside Shohei Shigematsu at the Office of Metropolitan Architecture.  They were able to get thirty different mourners from fifteen different countries to sit in the semi circle of eleven concrete towers at the Park Avenue Armory.  The towers recall the pipes of an organ, where visitors who enter the are exposed to a live performance activating the “dirges, songs, and weeping of the professionals within.”

This piece ties into the themes of government bureaucracy and social realism, where Taryn Simons would bring in these thirty different people from fifteen different countries all to New York City.  One of the hardest aspects about this project for her was all of the documentation paperwork she had to go through of getting these people visas, which she said ended up being more than a foot high tall of papers.  “The documentation of the visa process serves as a shadow accompaniment to the show, both a reminder of the administration that often accompanies death, and Simon said of authority and how it’s establish and the systems that we create and also adhere to, to organize ourselves.”  In the performance each mourner had their own individual style of mourning that they brought to portray to the audience what mourning is like in different cultures from the rituals themselves to what clothing they wear too.


Taryn Simon’s Varieties of Mourning.  http://www.newyorker.com/culture/culture-desk/taryn-simons-varieties-of-mourning (Accessed April 29, 2017)


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