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Diving for Pearls.

Tucked into the back pages of Nan Goldin's latest volume, DIVING FOR PEARLS (Steidl, $45), are three of Fosco Maraini's sumptuous photographs of Japanese Ama pearl divers from 1954. The images depict the women's work at its most elegant, capturing the seemingly effortless glide of the dive, rather than the brutal business of prying open oysters or the exasperation of an empty shell. In the accompanying text, Goldin uses this occupation as a metaphor for her own, likening "good pictures" to the elusive pearl. Diving for Pearls collects over 165 of the artist's recent images (most previously unpublished), alongside essays by Glenn O'Brien and Lotte Dinse. Like Maraini's pictures (or, for that matter, a string of pearls), Goldin's photographs leave their labor largely invisible, enacting a kind of magic that belies the mechanics of their making. The book opens with a strand of loose equivalents, pairing Goldin's casual portraits with excerpts of paintings by the likes of Lucas Cranach and Claude Vignon. The gesture places Goldin's offhand shots into a larger art-historical narrative, while inflecting the Old Masters with the brittleness, spontaneity, and blistering intimacy that have become the photographer's calling card.

Taryn Simon has built a practice photographing that which is not intended to be seen, from confiscated contraband goods to living individuals who, for one reason or another, have been legally declared dead. With PAPERWORK, AND THE WILL OF CAPITAL (Hatje Cantz, $100), the artist turns to an explicitly conspicuous subject--the flower arrangements decorating signings of major international economic and political agreements--as a way to trace the invisible networks these bouquets represent. Simon painstakingly researches and restages past arrangements, from the hydrangeas that marked the 2012 contract to build a Park Flyatt in St. Kitts, to the date palms at a 1994 Marrakech conference on intellectual-property rights, to the staid combination of carnations, asters, and chrysanthemums accompanying the signing of the Maastricht Treaty. After photographing each bouquet, Simon presses and photographs individual stems. The images appear here in multiple configurations, alongside either printed descriptions or historical photos of the events they commemorate. Lap-size and leather-bound, the book itself handles like an encyclopedia, with texts by Kate Fowle, Nicholas Kulish, and Hanan al-Shaykh. As an additional touch, a glossary compiled by botanist Daniel Atha cross-indexes each plant and its characteristics with the signings at which it appeared, creating a floriographic lexicon of modern capitalism.--KATE SUTTON

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Title Annotation:ROUNDUP
Author:Sutton, Kate
Publication:Artforum International
Article Type:Book review
Date:Dec 1, 2016
Words:397
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