Michael Stipe with Taryn Simon: Portraits of Now

Tue. Jun 25, 2024 7:00pm - 8:00pm EDT
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Event Description

The artist and former R.E.M. frontman discusses his new book of photography, an exploration of contemporary portraiture.

Book Cover of Even the birds gave pauseIn-person registration for this event has closed, but livestream tickets are still available. A limited number of standby tickets will be available on the night of the event.

Michael Stipe recently published his fourth book of photography, Even the birds gave pause, which, he says, sets out “to explore what the portrait means in this century.” It features a series of works-in-progress in plaster, concrete, rotocast plastics, ceramics, bookmaking, and darkroom photographic printing. “We are constantly bombarded with documentation and imagery through digital technology and social media culture,” Stipe said. “Media has collapsed into exploitation and sensation, entertainment, and with that a confusion about image. So, what is the job of the portraitist or photographer in this moment?”

Stipe takes the stage at LIVE from NYPL with artist Taryn Simon to talk about this question and share images from his latest book.

Presented as The Richard B. Salomon Distinguished Lecture.

To join the event in person | Doors will open 45 minutes before the program begins. For LIVE from NYPL events, we generally overbook to ensure a full house. Please arrive early to avoid disappointment; we will do our best to accommodate everyone. Booked seats that have not been claimed will be released shortly before start time, and seats may become available then. A standby line will form 45 minutes before the program.

To join the livestream | A livestream of this event will be available on the NYPL event page. To receive an email reminder shortly in advance of the event, please be sure to register! If you encounter any issues, please join us on NYPL's YouTube channel.


Michael Stipe headshotMichael Stipe, American, born 1960, is an artist, producer, and singer/songwriter. He fronted the band R.E.M. for 31 years, selling over 100 million records and touring the world. As film producer he made over 25 feature films, including Spike Jonze's Being John Malkovich, Jim McKay’s En El Séptimo Día, Chris Smith’s American Movie, and Todd Haynes' Velvet Goldmine. For the past decade his personal focus has been cross-medium work, incorporating video, soundscape, sculpture, and photographic and digital imagery. Recent photobooks include Volume 1 (with Jonathan Berger, 2018), Our Interference Times: A Visual Record (with Douglas Coupland, 2019) a third volume of portraits (2021), and the current Even the Birds Gave Pause (2023), all released through Damiani out of Bologna, Italy. His first institution show was at ICA Milan in December 2023. He is currently completing his first solo album to be released this year. Michael lives in New York City and Berlin.

Taryn Simon headshotTaryn Simon directs our attention to the unseen forces shaping the worlds we inhabit. Her projects, using photography, sculpture, text, sound and performance, center on storytelling, secrecy, and the hidden contours of power and authority.

Her multi-year projects are informed by research with varied institutions such as the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the International Commission on Missing Persons, the Fine Arts Commission of the CIA, Playboy Enterprises, and The New York Public Library, which recently exhibited The Color of a Flea’s Eyes, her photographic works dissecting its treasured Picture Collection.

Some of Simon’s other exhibitions and books include The Innocents, documenting the stories of individuals who served time in American prisons for violent crimes they did not commit; An American Index of the Hidden and Unfamiliar, examining the divide between public and expert access through hidden and unknown objects and sites in the United States; A Living Man Declared Dead and Other Chapters I–XVIII, mapping chance and other components of fate in bloodlines throughout the world, Paperwork and the Will of Capital, unraveling the stagecraft of power and the broken promises it yields, and An Occupation of Loss in which professional mourners enact rituals of grief, simultaneously broadcasting their lamentations from within a sculptural installation.

Her work is currently on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Cisternerne in Denmark, and in the collections of the Guggenheim, New York; Tate Modern, London; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Centre Pompidou, Paris; Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin; and the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Denmark.


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In-Person | Assistive listening devices and/or hearing loops are available at the venue. You can request a free ASL (American Sign Language) interpretation or CART (Communication Access Real-Time Translation) captioning service by emailing your request at least two weeks in advance of the event: email accessibility@nypl.org or use this Gmail template. This venue is fully accessible to wheelchairs. 

Livestream | Captions and a transcript will be provided. Media used over the course of the conversation will be accompanied by alt text and/or audio description. You can request a free ASL (American Sign Language) interpretation by emailing your request at least two weeks in advance of the event: email accessibility@nypl.org or use this Gmail template.


For questions and inquiries, please email publicprograms@nypl.org or use this Gmail template.

Please submit press inquiries at least 48 hours before the event: email press@nypl.org or use this Gmail template.

The New York Public Library's free services and resources are made possible thanks to the support of the Friends of the Library. Join this group of Library lovers and take advantage of special membership benefits, like invitations to members-only virtual events, discounts at the Library Shop, and more. Join now.

LIVE from NYPL is made possible by the continuing generosity of Celeste Bartos, Mahnaz Ispahani Bartos and Adam Bartos, the Margaret and Herman Sokol Public Education Endowment Fund, and the support of Library patrons and friends.

The Richard B. Salomon Distinguished Lecture is made possible by an endowment established by family and friends of the late Richard B. Salomon.  

Michael Stipe © David Belisle
Courtesy Taryn Simon

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Edna Barnes Salomon Room (3rd Floor) The New York Public Library, Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, 42nd Street & 5th Avenue
New York, NY 10018