Updated: 2013-12-06 11:04
By Chen Nan (China Daily)
Photos from Taryn Simon's work that investigates 18 family bloodlines. Photo by Taryn Simon For China Daily
American photographer Taryn Simon has turned her lens on families, traveling across continents to capture the invisible ties that bind. Chen Nan discovers why the artist is drawn to challenging projects.
|Family in the frame|
'In Uttar Pradesh, India, land provides the primary source of income for most residents. Exponential population growth, property shortages, and repeated subdivision have heightened competition for land. Records officials are frequently bribed to have living people declared dead in order to redirect the hereditary transfer of land to new owners. These bribes commonly range from 45 to 2,250 INR ($1-50)."
These are the words American artist Taryn Simon wrote next to 23 photos she took on a visit to India four years ago.
Her photos document the family of Shivdutt Yadav, who discovered that official records listed him as dead. His land was no longer registered in his name and was transferred to the other heirs of Yadav's father, who threatened to destroy his property unless he moved away.
"As a photographer, this was a particularly complex situation as photographs are often used as a 'proof of life' and here I was taking portraits of people who don't exist. I was photographing ghosts," she says.
The 23 photos, titled A Living Man Declared Dead, made her think about fate and its relationship to chance, blood, and circumstance. The experience also forced her beyond borders to more than 20 different countries over the past four years.