Taryn Simon "Contraband"

Lever House

poster for Taryn Simon "Contraband"

This event has ended.

Lever House Art Collection, New York, presents CONTRABAND, a new commission by acclaimed photographer Taryn Simon. This is the first exhibition of this new series of photographs.

Taryn Simon’s photographs chronicle contradictory aspects of the American identity while exposing the veiled mechanisms of society. This latest work, CONTRABAND, expands on her earlier series, An American Index of the Hidden and Unfamiliar (2007), that explored the covert intersection between private and public.

For five days in November 2009, Simon remained on site at John F. Kennedy International Airport, which processes more international passengers than any other airport in the United States. The exhaustive pace at which she photographed paralleled the twenty-four hour rhythm by which goods move across borders and time zones. CONTRABAND includes 1075 photographs of items detained or seized from passengers and express mail entering the U.S. from abroad.

Simon used a labor intensive, forensic photographic procedure to document a broad array of forbidden items including the active ingredient found in Botox, counterfeit clothes and accessories (including designer hand bags), heroin, jewelry, over-proof Jamaican rum, items made from endangered species, pharmaceuticals, Cuban cigars, animal parts, pirated DVDs, gold dust, potatoes, GBL (a date rape drug concealed as house cleaner), cow manure tooth powder, and illegal steroids.

In cataloguing an enormous amount of material in a limited amount of time, emerging patterns reveal a comprehensive cross-section of international commerce, exposing the desires and demands that drive the international economy as well as the local economies that produce them.

Simon photographed each item against a neutral grey background, producing an “objective” scientific record devoid of context. Removed from the individual passenger’s belongings, each item loses its distinguishing personal associations and is transformed into an artifact of the larger global network. Contraband can also infer danger, and raises questions about what is officially considered to be a threat to authority and security in contemporary American society.

This exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue published by Steidl with a text by Hans Ulrich Obrist, Director of the Serpentine Gallery, London.

Taryn Simon was born in New York in 1975. She is a graduate of Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island, and a Guggenheim Fellow. Simon's photographs have been the subject of international solo exhibitions including “The Innocents”, Kunst-Werke Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin (2003), and traveled to P.S.1/MOMA, Queens, New York (2003) and High Museum of Art, Atlanta (2006); “An American Index of the Hidden and Unfamiliar”, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, 2007, and traveled to The Photographer's Gallery, London (2007), the Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt (2007-2008), and the Foam Photography Museum, Amsterdam (2008). Taryn Simon’s work is included in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Tate Modern, London; Centre Pompidou, Paris; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Museum Fur Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt Am Main; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego; High Museum of Art, Atlanta; and Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. The artist is represented by Gagosian Gallery, New York.

[Image: Taryn Simon "ANABOLIC STEROIDS (ILLEGAL)" (2010) 23 archival inkjet prints in 4 Plexiglas boxes]



from September 30, 2010 to December 31, 2010

Opening Reception on 2010-09-30 from 18:00 to 20:00


Taryn Simon

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