For this project, artist Taryn Simon (b. 1975) assumes the dual role of shrewd informant and collector of curiosities, compiling an inventory of what lies hidden and out-of-view within the borders of the United States. She examines a culture through careful documentation of diverse subjects from across the realms of science, government, medicine, entertainment, nature, security, and religion. Transforming the unknown into a seductive and intelligible form, Simon confronts the divide between those with and without the privilege of access. Her sometimes ethereal, sometimes foreboding compositions, shot with a large-format view camera whenever conditions allowed, vary as much as her subject matter, which ranges from radioactive capsules at a nuclear waste storage facility to a black bear in hibernation. Offering visions of the unseen, the photographs of An American Index capture the strange magic at the foundation of a national identity.