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Other Edens
Taryn Simon

Taryn Simon will be taking us on a tour through the “weirdness hidden in plain sight — on our sidewalks, along our roadsides and in our public rituals and spectacles” next March in a solo exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art, and in a volume available later that summer.

If you can't make it to the exhibition or can't wait for the book, The New York Times Magazine has published some of Simon's photographs, including the one above taken at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Contraband Room at the Kennedy International Airport: “Among the items seized from passengers in the 48 hours before the photograph was taken: African cane rats infested with maggots, Andean potatoes, Bangladeshi cucurbit plants, a pig’s head from South America.”

One wonders if these detention rooms might just be some of the most biologically diverse places in the lower 48 states.

Another photo takes a look inside the Avian Quarantine Facility New York Animal Import Center in Newburgh, New York. What we see caged are “African gray parrots and European finches, seized upon illegal importation into the U.S., in quarantine. Imported birds must undergo a 30-day mandatory quarantine in a U.S. Department of Agriculture animal-import facility. Before release, each bird is tested for avian influenza and exotic Newcastle disease.”

Taryn Simon

Again, seeing how empty the sky above Chicago is at the moment, one wonders if it's an ecological wasteland compared to these secret aviaries.


Living Dead
DHL Gardens
5 COMMENTS —
  • Anonymous
  • December 17, 2006 at 5:49:00 AM CST
  • why doesnt google deliver e-mails to you?


  • Alexander Trevi
  • December 17, 2006 at 3:56:00 PM CST
  • I wasn't aware of any email problem. That is, you are the first to alert me of a possible problem. Best to email me again.


  • Geoff Manaugh
  • December 21, 2006 at 2:52:00 AM CST
  • I once thought - in fact, I still think - that it'd be interesting to grow a garden using only seeds and plants seized at the Customs office.

    A garden of seized plants. Captured flowers. Find out what weird, hybridized landscape results. Take pictures of it and submit the film for an ASLA award. Write a new Pamphlet Architecture book about it.

    Grow more of the things. Seize whole landscapes coming over the border. An 18-wheeler hauling an open truck bed gets stopped at the gate - because the bed is planted with seeds seized at Customs a year earlier. A small, somewhat disorganized garden grows. So of course, you let it through... It's going back to where it came from...

    But you don't. You re-seize it. The loop starts all over again.

    Meanwhile, Alex, what do you think of this project?


  • fooosco
  • December 24, 2006 at 4:52:00 AM CST
  • beautiful blog, gonna come back and link soon!


  • Anonymous
  • October 3, 2008 at 11:55:00 AM CDT
  • My wife and I are returning to the United States from a two-year deployment to Afghanistan and Turkey. when we left we took our two parrots with us, and after fulfilling all transport documentations we traveled to our base of operation, with no problems. However our return to the US is becoming more of and issues that leaving we are required to fly and make our travel arrangements in accordance with USDA import requirements, if any one has ever traveled by air in the last decade, travel plan cannot be made to set time and destinations always delays and diversions. We contacted the JFK quarantine facility in accordance with federal law and with all our flight information to get the following reply.

    This was the reply from JFK quarantine facility
    We will meet you at the terminal to pick up the birds if the aircraft arrives during our normal tour of duty. If not the birds must wait till our next work day. Hours we can pick up birds are 0800-1600 Mon-Thursday. Friday 0800-1200. E-mail me about a week before the birds arrive.

    Unfittingly your flight DL 73 from Turkey comes in at 1650 scheduled. We therefore cannot pick up the birds that evening. The next day 11 Nov is Veterans Day. No one will be available to pick up the birds that day also. If we cannot meet you to pick up the birds from you, they will be post entered by Customs and you will need the services of one of the Bird Brokers listed on the information sheet. If you can get an earlier flight on 10 Nov that would solve several problems.

    We them contact the head of the USDA/APHIS/Veterinary Services and operations, and after a number of Highly discharged email, the JFK quarantine facility emailed us the following reply –
    “We will try to get the birds into the vetport, an animal facility here at JFK.”
    Why does it take this line of action to get the correct service for our pets?


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