As a part of our ongoing partnership with KQED Arts, today we bring you a feature from writer Sarah Hotchkiss titled Picturing a Picture Collection: Taryn Simon at John Berggruen.
For her first exhibition in San Francisco, photographer Taryn Simon delves into a unique archive to create a series of organized images about the organization of images. The Picture Collection contains photographs of the New York Public Library‘s circulating image library, a collection of 1.2 million prints, photographs, posters, postcards, and illustrations. Within over 12,000 subject headings, Simon selected one folder at a time to spread out and photograph its contents. The resulting prints, squarely capturing the materials from above in what resemble analog search engine results, tread an intriguing line between impartial document and subjective presentation.
These large-scale photographs, hung throughout both floors of the John Berggruen Gallery, feature the contents of twenty different subject folders. So many of the elements in The Picture Collection are standardized (lighting within the photograph, scale within the photograph, size of the prints, type of framing and hanging apparatus) that smaller discrepancies emerge more dramatically over time spent in the exhibition.