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. Over five days, in both the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Federal Inspection Site and the U.S. Postal Service International Mail Facility, Simon documented items including counterfeit American Express travelers checks, overproof Jamaican rum, heroin, a dead hawk, an illegal Mexican passport, deer penis, purses made from endangered species, Cuban cigars, counterfeit Disney DVDs, khat, gold dust, GHB concealed as house cleaner, cow manure tooth powder, counterfeit Louis Vuitton bags, prohibited sausage, undeclared jewelry, steroids and an ostrich egg.
This catalog presents an edited version, selected by the artist, from the more than 1000 items she recorded.