Taryn Simon’s The Innocents is a fascinating, cinematically styled investigation into photography’s role within the justice system in the United States. Following on from a project commissioned by the New York Times in which Simon photographed men who had been wrongfully convicted, imprisoned and eventually freed from Death Row, The Innocents further investigates the role of the camera in such a system, and ‘photography’s function as a credible eyewitness and arbiter of justice.’
Simon’s subjects are specifically those for whom photographic evidence played a substantial role in them being illegitimately convicted of crimes. The men are posed in locations specific to their cases, and each piece is accompanied by texts such as: ’Larry Mayes: Served 18.5 years of an 80 year sentence for Rape, Robbery, and Unlawful Deviate Conduct’ 2002.
Simon has stated how ‘Photography’s ability to blur truth and fiction is one of its most compelling qualities,’ and through the medium of The Innocents reveals the severe and even lethal consequences that such ambiguity can incur.
Taryn Simon is represented by The Gagosian and her recent work, A Living Man Declared Dead and Other Chapters I–XVIII, is currently on exhibition at The Museum of Modern Art, New York.