new-york

Taryn Simon, Cigarettes, Shuangxi, China (prohibited), 2010,color photograph, 6 1/4 x 6 1/4". From the series “Contraband,” 2010.

Taryn Simon

Lever House Art Collection

Taryn Simon, Cigarettes, Shuangxi, China (prohibited), 2010,color photograph, 6 1/4 x 6 1/4". From the series “Contraband,” 2010.

To shoot the 1,075 images that constitute her project “Contraband,” 2010, Taryn Simon erected makeshift photo studios at the US Customs and Border Protection Federal Inspection Site and the US Postal Service International Mail Facility at John F. Kennedy International Airport. Then, she and her team meticulously documented items confiscated by customs agents over the course of five days: heroin, envelopes with unknown medication, counterfeit BlackBerry batteries, shark fins, South Korean dog treats made with unidentified meats, Russian diet pills, a Haitian goatskin drum, Pakistani steroids, Ukrainian lard.

Simon groups the images according to the identifications used by the agency, such as “animal corpses,” “unidentified biohazard,” “money orders,” “nuts,” “miscellaneous pharmaceuticals.” And in this regard, the project can be situated within photography’s long classificatory

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