The hidden and unfamiliar
What with my current photographic obsession, I’ve been running around Sydney and Newcastle taking snaps of stuff that interests me – mainly graffiti, old decaying buildings, posters on walls. The sort of stuff you might not notice or care about but stuff that tells a story about a city or the people who inhabit it.
So I am very interested in the work of a young US photographer, Taryn Simon. I first noticed her work about 4 years or so ago when I came across photos from her Innocents series – photos of people serving time in prison for crimes they did not commit. Her current series is An American Index of the Hidden and Unfamiliar and show photos of objects or places that are unfamiliar or unknown to the average person. Some of her photos I find extremely confronting – nuclear waste capsules and cryopreservation units for example. And because her subjects are often unfamiliar, you need to read the accompanying text with each photo to understand the context.
Here’s one of her photos with text:
|“White Tiger (Kenny), Selective Inbreeding
Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge and Foundation
Eureka Springs, Arkansas
|In the United States, all living white tigers are the result of selective inbreeding to artificially create the genetic conditions that lead to white fur, ice-blue eyes and a pink nose. Kenny was born to a breeder in Bentonville, Arkansas on February 3, 1999. As a result of inbreeding, Kenny is mentally retarded and has significant physical limitations. Due to his deep-set nose, he has difficulty breathing and closing his jaw, his teeth are severely malformed and he limps from abnormal bone structure in his forearms. The three other tigers in Kenny’s litter are not considered to be quality white tigers as they are yellow coated, cross-eyed, and knock-kneed”.|
Take the time to check out her photos. Read about her Innocents series and the sorry stories of the wrongfully convicted here. What do you notice around a city or space? Do you see the negative spaces? The empty space or seemingly unimportant background space. The spaces surrounding shapes.