Taryn Simon (2016)

Editor: Rozalia Jovanovic

“An Occupation of Loss,” Taryn Simon’s world premiere performance at the Park Avenue Armory in New York, is billed as a thoroughly-researched survey on how the world grieves. For the project, which runs from September 13–25, the artist invited 30 professional mourners from Armenia, Cambodia, Ecuador, and 16 other countries, to the 55,000-square-foot Wade Thompson Drill Hall.

Prior to Tuesday night’s 8 p.m. viewing, I took a seat, along with some 40 odd guests, in a quartered-off area of the Park Avenue Armory’s East 67th Street entrance. A staffer reminded the group that photography was prohibited “out of respect for the artists,” before shepherding us up two flights of stairs bolted against the building’s façade.

An indoor balcony overlooks 11 colossal spires, designed by Simon in collaboration with Rem Koolhaas’s OMA, standing in communion at the center of the formidable hall. Two vertical strips of LED lights facing the 45-foot-tall installation, as well as a horizontal strip behind the monuments, cast a soft, theatrical halo in the vast darkness. As we approached the balcony’s edge, a slow-moving procession of performers emerged from private doors, either alone or in groups of two or three, and filed into their respective towers. There, sitting on ledges in their separate nodes, the professional mourners waited for us to descend the staircase and peer into their echo chambers of song, silence, and wails.

Read the full review on artnet News.