• Paperwork and the Will of Capital, 2015

    In signings of political accords, contracts, treaties, and decrees, powerful men flank floral centerpieces curated to convey the importance of the signatories and the institutions they represent. In Paperwork and the Will of Capital, Taryn Simon studies and recreates the centerpieces that witnessed thirty-six official signings from 1968 to 2014, drafted to influence aspects of governance and economics.

    From nuclear armament to oil deals, the signings that inform Paperwork and the Will of Capital involve the countries present at the 1944 United Nations Monetary and Financial Conference, in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, which addressed the globalization of economies after World War II, leading to the establishment of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank.

    The flowers present at each signing were identified from archival sources by a botanist, and photographed against background and foreground colors, keyed by the original decor of the historic ceremonies. Presented custom-framed in mahogany to mimic the style of boardroom furniture, together with their stories, the photographs underscore how the stagecraft of political and economic power is created, performed, marketed, and maintained.

    For the sculptures, the thirty-six centerpieces were assembled and photographed twelve times; the unique photographs were fixed to typeset sheets of herbarium paper. Specimens from each were dried, pressed, and sewn to an equal number of sheets of the same paper. Complete sets of both photographs and botanical collages were placed in each sculpture. The concrete sculptures, designed as presses, force each photograph against its preserved subject.

    Paperwork and the Will of Capital addresses the instability of executive decision-making and the precarious nature of survival, as well as the reliability and endurance of records: the accords and their far-reaching effects; the photographs; the preserved botanical specimens in their concrete presses; language itself. The photographic still lifes stand in contrast to the sculptural natures mortes: as time advances, so may these artifacts transform, revealing mutable versions of themselves.