A new photo exhibit in New York City shows exactly what gets confiscated: Cuban cigars, pirated DVDs, heroin, animal parts, hand grenades, bongs and more.
Now through the end of 2010, the Lever House Art Collection (on Park Avenue in midtown Manhattan, free) features the photographs of Taryn Simon. Last November, Simon spent five full days (24/7) at New York's JFK airport, where she photographed more than 1,000 items seized from airline passengers and mail packages entering the U.S.
The resulting images are shown in a Lever House exhibition simply called "Contraband." The exhibit is an extension of the work Simon is probably best known for, "An American Index of the Hidden and Unfamiliar," in which she documented spots few people ever have a prayer of seeing in person — CIA headquarters, inside a fully-armed nuclear submarine, and so forth. The "American Index," shown at the Whitney Museum in 2007, is now a book.
So what's the strangest thing in Simon's new "Contraband" show? Hard to say, but the horse sausage and cow manure tooth powder have to be up at the top of the list.