Taryn Simon

An Occupation of Loss

Corner of Islington Green, Essex Road
SOON 17 April 2018 - 28 April 2018
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Within a monumental setting, Taryn Simon’s An Occupation of Loss combines performance, sound, and architecture to consider the anatomy of grief and the intricate systems we use to manage the abstract certainty of death. 

Each night, professional mourners simultaneously broadcast their lamentations, enacting rituals of grief. Their sonic mourning is performed in recitations that include northern Albanian laments, which seek to excavate “uncried words”; Venezuelan laments, which safeguard the soul’s passage to the Milky Way; Greek Epirotic laments, which bind the story of a life with its afterlife; and Yezidi laments, which map a topography of displacement and exile.

An Occupation of Loss investigates the intangible authority of these performers in negotiating the boundaries of grief: between the living and the dead, the past and the present, the performer and the viewer.​ ​The professional status of these mourners — performing beyond their usual contexts — underscores the tension between authenticity and staged emotion, spontaneity and script.​

Image: Anibal Gonzalez, An Occupation of Loss, Park Avenue Armory, New York (2016). Photograph: Taryn Simon

About Taryn Simon

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Taryn Simon

Taryn Simon is a multidisciplinary artist working in photography, text, sculpture and performance. Like much of her work, An Occupation of Loss considers state power, borders and the precarious nature of survival. It is the artist’s first major performance work.

Most recently she has had solo exhibitions at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Copenhagen (2016 – 2017); The Albertinum, Dresden (2016); Galerie Rudolfinum, Prague (2016); Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, Moscow (2016); Jeu de Paume, Paris (2015); Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing (2013); Museum of Modern Art, New York (2012); Tate Modern, London (2011); Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin (2011); and Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2007).

Image: Artist Taryn Simon in An Occupation of Loss, Park Avenue Armory, 2016. Video still courtesy Taryn Simon Studio.

Selected Press

Book: An Occupation of Loss

A detailed record of Simon's years spent researching professional mourning
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Book: An Occupation of Loss

€48.00 from Hatje Cantz

In the publication An Occupation of Loss artist Taryn Simon creates a detailed record of her years researching professional mourning, which culminated in a performance co-commissioned by the Park Avenue Armory and Artangel.

The book leads the reader through the complicated visa application process for the mourners invited to enter the United States, revealing the underlying structures governing global exchange, the movement of bodies, and the hierarchy of art and culture.

  • Published by Hatje Cantz
  • 220pp
  • Illustrations colour
  • Paperback
  • ISBN: 9783775743198

Talk: Taryn Simon and Frances Morris in Conversation

18:30 Thursday 26 April 2018
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Talk: Taryn Simon and Frances Morris in Conversation

SOON Thursday 26 April 2018

18:30 – 19:45 

Taryn Simon will be joined by Tate Modern director Frances Morris in conversation on the ideas and research that inform her performance work, An Occupation of Loss. 

The conversation will be followed by the artist signing copies of a new 220-page book, published by Hatje Cantz. The publication will be available at the special price of £20 on the night. 


The Anatomy Lecture Theatre
King's Building, King's College
London WC2R 2LS
United Kingdom



Production Credits

Producer – Michael Morris
Head of Production – Sam Collins
Production Co-ordinator – Marina Doritis
Lead Technician – 
Technicians –
Rigging –
Lighting Design –
Lighting supplied by Whitelight
Front of House Team –

With special thanks to

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Who made this possible?


Commissioned by Artangel and Park Avenue Armory. Generously supported by LUMA Foundation, Michael G. Wilson and Gagosian Gallery. The London Circle, An Occupation of Loss: The George Economou Collection, Outset Contemporary Art Fund, Alia Al-Senussi, Indoo Sella di Monteluce, Nicholas Warren and Catherine Graham-Harrison. London presentation generously supported by DoubleTree by Hilton London-Islington. With additional support from the Fundación Almine y Bernard Ruiz-Picasso para el Arte and Artangel's Guardian Angels.

Artangel is generously supported using public funding by Arts Council England, and by the private patronage of The Artangel International CircleSpecial Angels and The Company of Angels.