los-angeles

Taryn Simon, Switzerland, 2014, ink-jet prints in boxed mat and aluminum frame, 39 7/8 x 79 1/2". From the series “Birds of the West Indies,” 2013–14.

Taryn Simon

Gagosian | Beverly Hills

Taryn Simon, Switzerland, 2014, ink-jet prints in boxed mat and aluminum frame, 39 7/8 x 79 1/2". From the series “Birds of the West Indies,” 2013–14.

The birth of modern ornithology, according to historian Daniel Lewis, was marked by notable developments in three areas: classification, language, and accountability. The first can be traced directly to Darwin: Following the 1859 publication of On the Origin of Species, it became practice not just to note affinities among groups of birds but to make fine distinctions between subspecies and to track their evolution over time. These emerging classification systems in turn made fresh demands on language, requiring the invention of new and precise terminologies. Finally, the arrival of such classificatory principles and their attendant vocabularies brought with them important questions of accountability: Who, exactly, should have the authority to develop and impose such systems?

These very concerns have been central to Taryn Simon’s previous work, which has categorized everything from

Sign-in to keep reading

Artforum print subscribers have full access to this article. If you are a subscriber, sign in below.

Not registered for artforum.com? Register here.

SUBSCRIBE NOW for only $50 a year—65% off the newsstand price—and get the print magazine plus full online access to this issue and our archive.*

Order the PRINT EDITION of the May 2014 issue for $17 or the ONLINE EDITION for $5.99.

* This rate applies to U.S. domestic subscriptions.