There Will Be Bloodlines

Taryn Simon untangles the ties that bind

Erik Madigan Heck for TIME

Have Lens, Will Travel. To produce the hundreds of portraits in A Dead Man Declared Dead and Other Chapters, Simon visited 25 countries in four years. Even a single bloodline might have members scattered across several nations.

If Taryn Simon hadn't become a photographer, she could have made a fortune in sales, because she has persuasive powers that the rest of us can only dream of. For her 2007 exhibition and book An American Index of the Hidden and Unfamiliar, she got herself admitted to dozens of places where outsiders with cameras aren't usually allowed, including a nuclear-waste storage facility and a reconstructed crime scene at a forensic research center, complete with a rotting corpse. For another project, Contraband, she persuaded the wary authorities at John F. Kennedy International Airport to let her photograph every item seized by...

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