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Taryn Simon - The Innocents

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The Innocents documents the stories of individuals who served time in prison for violent crimes they did not commit. At issue is the question of photography’s function as a credible eyewitness and arbiter of justice.

The primary cause of wrongful conviction is mistaken identification. A victim or eyewitness identifies a suspected perpetrator through law enforcement’s use of photographs and lineups. This procedure relies on the assumption of precise visual memory. But, through exposure to composite sketches, mugshots, Polaroids, and lineups, eyewitness memory can change. In the history of these cases, photography offered the criminal justice system a tool that transformed innocent citizens into criminals. Photographs assisted officers in obtaining eyewitness identifications and aided prosecutors in securing convictions.

Simon photographed these men at sites that had particular significance to their illegitimate conviction: the scene of misidentification, the scene of arrest, the scene of the crime or the scene of the alibi. All of these locations hold contradictory meanings for the subjects. The scene of arrest marks the starting point of a reality based in fiction. The scene of the crime is at once arbitrary and crucial: this place, to which they have never been, changed their lives forever. In these photographs Simon confronts photography’s ability to blur truth and fiction-an ambiguity that can have severe, even lethal consequences.

selected by ivi

I love Taryn Simon’s work! It’s always conceptually interesting (I cherish my copy of An American Index of the Hidden and Unfamiliar) but it’s also gorgeous. These photographs are uncanny and beautiful.

danielshea:

For the past few years I’ve been working on an extensive body of work about a fictional Illinois coal town, Blisner. I’m working with London publishers fourteen-nineteen to release a hard cover monograph this fall, available in time for the NY Art Book Fair. We just launched the pre-order options!
Books are expensive and time-consuming to produce, in addition to the years spent working on the projects they contain. Pre-orders are a way of fund-raising to make the project actually happen. If you were going to buy the book anyway, please consider purchasing it now. Then you will have a nice treat in the mail in September The other options include prints that I’m really excited about. Take a look, and please pass along. As always, I’m grateful for your support!

Daniel Shea’s work is really special. He’s made photographs for all sorts of publications, including some really great portraits of Chief Keef and photo essays about Chicago for Fader. $50 is very inexpensive for a photography book. If I recall correctly, the first Blisner was much more expensive, which is why I personally bought the newsprint version. If you can’t go to the exhibitions, or even if you can, photography books are unique and wonderful ways to view photography. They are objects that really transcend seeing someone’s work on Instagram, Tumblr, or even the web.

danielshea:

For the past few years I’ve been working on an extensive body of work about a fictional Illinois coal town, Blisner. I’m working with London publishers fourteen-nineteen to release a hard cover monograph this fall, available in time for the NY Art Book Fair. We just launched the pre-order options!


Books are expensive and time-consuming to produce, in addition to the years spent working on the projects they contain. Pre-orders are a way of fund-raising to make the project actually happen. If you were going to buy the book anyway, please consider purchasing it now. Then you will have a nice treat in the mail in September 

The other options include prints that I’m really excited about. Take a look, and please pass along. 

As always, I’m grateful for your support!

Daniel Shea’s work is really special. He’s made photographs for all sorts of publications, including some really great portraits of Chief Keef and photo essays about Chicago for Fader. $50 is very inexpensive for a photography book. If I recall correctly, the first Blisner was much more expensive, which is why I personally bought the newsprint version. If you can’t go to the exhibitions, or even if you can, photography books are unique and wonderful ways to view photography. They are objects that really transcend seeing someone’s work on Instagram, Tumblr, or even the web.