Contraband: A Photo Essay Including Illicit Edibles Seized at JFK


If you’ve ever tried desperately to look innocent in the arrivals area at JFK, willing the customs officials not to find that raw milk Époisses or baggie of fresh curry leaves that you’ve secreted away in your suitcase, then you might be interested in a new project by Guggenheim Fellow photographer Taryn Simon.

Contraband, a book that will be released this fall, features photos of all seized items that came in on international flights to JFK from November 16 to November 20, 2009. Unsurprisingly, there’s a lot of food among the contraband — edibles like chicken feet, lard, sugarcane, deer penis, Ghanaian onion bulbs, desiccated Ecuadorean guinea pigs, “unidentified mammal,” and cow-dung toothpaste.

You can take a look at 40 of the images in a New York Times Magazine gallery.