Artist Taryn Simon’s latest book is that rare aesthetic object that manages to gratify on both visceral and cerebral levels. Part photo collection, part curio cabinet, An American Index of the Hidden and Unfamiliar (Steidl) is a study of spaces typically off-limits to the public—secret government facilities, science laboratories, private clubhouses—illuminated by contextual passages that often drastically alter your initial impressions. Over the course of four years, Simon cajoled her way into dozens of obscure restricted sites, five of which are excerpted below, including the seized contraband room at Kennedy airport, a nuclear waste storage facility, and the only building in the United States federally licensed to grow marijuana. And don’t miss the mutant tiger cage.
When I Will Be Munchin’
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