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Taryn Simon: An American Index of the Hidden and Unfamiliar

by Jonah Samson
on 01 November 2007

For her latest project called "An American Index of the Hidden and Unfamiliar," photographer Taryn Simon takes on the dual role of modern undercover spy and old-time collector of curiosities.

After years of extensive research and struggling to overcome government restrictions, Simon has created a collection of photographs that documents the inaccessible places that exist below the surface of American identity. It took her as long as a year to gain permission to photograph some of the high-security zones on view in this work, like government-regulated quarantine sites, nuclear waste storage facilities, prison death rows and C.I.A. offices.


Because her approach tends to be very direct and unsentimental, some images like the albino tiger look like they could be museum displays, which only makes these mysterious spaces even more curious and seductive. Through her work, the strangeness of American culture shines.

This show is currently on view at Amazon.

See more images and background info on each photograph below.

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