“Men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past. The tradition of all dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brains of the living.”
Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte (1852)
A Living Man Declared Dead and Other Chapters is a significant and extensive book of a major new body of work by the American artist Taryn Simon with texts by Homi K. Bhabha and Geoffrey Batchen, to accompany an exhibition at Tate Modern, London in May 2011 and Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin in September 2011.
Over a four-year period, Simon traveled around the world recording bloodlines and their related stories. In each chapter, the external forces of territory, power, circumstance or religion collide with the internal forces of psychological and physical inheritance. The subjects Simon documents include feuding families in Brazil, victims of genocide in Bosnia, the body double of Saddam Hussein's son, Uday, and the living dead in India. Her collection is at once cohesive and arbitrary, mapping the relationships among chance, blood and other components of fate.