Venue

Born in 1975 in New York, United States.
Lives and works in New York, United States.

In signings of political accords, contracts, treaties, and decrees, powerful men flank floral centerpieces curated to convey the importance of the signatories and institutions they represent. The signings that inform Taryn Simon’s 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 economic globalization after World War II and led to the establishment of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank. Photographs of the recreated centerpieces from these signings, together with their stories, underscore how the stagecraft of political and economic power is created, performed, marketed, and maintained. Simon worked with a botanist to identify flowers in archival images of signings and sourced specimens from the world’s largest flower auction in Aalsmeer, Netherlands, which receives and distributes approximately 20 million flowers per day. Each recreated floral centerpiece represents an “impossible bouquet,” a concept that emerged in Dutch still-life painting during the country’s seventeenth-century economic boom and the emergence of modern capitalism. An impossible bouquet is a man-made fantasy of flowers that could not naturally bloom in the same geographic location and season—now made possible by global commerce. Thirty-six floral centerpieces were photographed against background and foreground colors keyed by the original décor of the historic ceremonies. Many of the agreements in this project represent broken promises—declarations that have been violated and withered.

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