On TARYN SIMON: Object as In-Betweenness at the Venice Biennale
At the 56th Venice Biennale, I was fascinated by Taryn Simon‘s Paperwork, the Will of Capital (2015), which reminded me of the object as a form of in-betweenness that is easily dismissed.
At first glance, the installation feels like an investigation: by placing stacks of pages side by side in glass cases, with the right surface of the stack having the presses of dried plants (spaced out strictly), and the left surface of the stack having an image of a bouquet of flowers (staged almost in the style of Dutch still-life painting as “impossible bouquets”) with text strictly above or below it, I felt as if it was my duty to stand there and review the consequence of some sort of experimental happening.
When viewed closely, I realised that the texts were indeed political: they referenced historical agreements, contracts, treaties, and decrees drafted under some sort of governmental or economic system throughout history. What I had not realised, and what was also astounding, is that the plants juxtaposed in the archived image– photographs of the signings of these documents– were in fact the specimen of flowers that were easily dismissed in these situations, although carefully curated to compliment a significant historical event, then tossed aside by man.
I found this exhibition to be both genius, and jarring, as in the midst of a political decision, something as concrete as a bouquet of flowers– the object of in-betweenness, metaphorizes man’s power because of its status of invisibility: to easily control the fate of not only nations and institutions, but also, the natural world.
These flowers, tossed aside in these historical situations, were almost silent observers– in-between objects which remind us how power can be “created, marketed, performed, and maintained,” as told by Simon.