John F. Kennedy International Airport caters to the largest collection of international clients that depend on easy flow of human traffic. With such constant bustle, you are bound to run into unsavory characters or just oblivious individuals who have no respect for the U.S. Customs. It seems people import the strangest things into North America. Some illegal with criminal implications, others just bizarre to us but not to them. Contraband examines a body of work created by Taryn Simon as she documents some outlandish things assembled from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Federal Inspection Site and the U.S. Postal Service International Mail Facility.
Within five days she witnessed things such as: African cane rats infested with maggots, African yams (dioscorea), Andean potatoes, Bangladeshi cucurbit plants, bush meat, cherimoya fruit, curry leaves (murraya), dried orange peels, fresh eggs, giant African snail, impala skull cap, jackfruit seeds, June plum, kola nuts, mango, okra, passion fruit, pig nose, pig mouths, pork, raw poultry (chicken), South American pig head, South American tree tomatoes, South Asian lime infected with citrus canker, sugar cane (poaceae), uncooked meats, unidentified sub tropical plant in soil. Her exhibition of curiosity can be seen at the Gagosian Gallery in Beverly Hills on Sept. 22 and at Lever House Art Collection in New York on Sept. 30. The book “Contraband” will be published by Steidl this fall.
Taryn Simon lived in John F. Kennedy International Airport from November 16 through November 20, 2009. JFK processes more international passengers than any other airport in the United States. Contraband includes photographs taken 24 hours a day of over 1000 items detained or seized from passengers and express mail entering the U.S. from abroad.