Simon recorded a 'ceaseless flow' -
one the public rarely sees: contraband detained and seized from international flights. ...Counterfeits reappear in 'Jailhouse Frocks: Locating the Public Interest in Policing Counterfeit Luxury Fashion Goods' by David Wall &Jo Large in 50(6) British Journal of Criminology (2010) -
After setting up makeshift studios at inspection sites in Terminal 4, Ms. Simon photographed 1,075 items that were taken from passengers and express mail. They ranged from banal bags of nuts to a falcon corpse from Indonesia in a package that declared it to be "home décor".
"This is a look at an attempt to control what is considered threatening to economies, to personal safety and to a nation", Ms. Simon said.
She has meticulously cataloged every item alphabetically for a 500-page book, Contraband, that Steidl will publish this fall. The New York Times Magazine is featuring an excerpt of 40 images.
Viewed collectively, her simple, uniform images offer a fascinating portrait of the world through objects from "alcohol" to "zolpidem" (Ambien).
Some items turn up again and again: sexual stimulants, counterfeit luxury goods and drugs. "I think it's a depressing reflection of what everyone is chasing — all these forms of escape that create quite a flat representation of human desire in all corners of the world", Ms. Simon said.
Fake Louis Vuitton handbags, steroids from Pakistan and counterfeit boxes of Viagra from China (labeled "USA American Visagra") are just a few of the images that serve as a time capsule of contemporary desire. Not everything is so predictable, however. Among the more surprising objects were two dead guinea pigs. They were taken from a passenger flying in from Ecuador, where the animal is considered a delicacy.
"You have people arriving from different cultures with the normal parts of their everyday life, and then these suddenly take on a wild identity under U.S. Customs", Ms. Simon said.
Counterfeiting raises some interesting intellectual questions for criminologists, policy makers and brand owners, not least that it differs from the types of offending that traditionally form the crime diet of the criminal justice system. Whilst it is growing in prevalence due to the enormous returns on investment, it is unlikely that the public purse will fund major anti-counterfeiting initiatives in a climate of public sector cut-backs, emphasising the need to allocate resources effectively. This article seeks to locate the public interest in policing counterfeit luxury fashion goods by separating it out from the broader debate over safety-critical counterfeits such as aircraft parts. It then maps out, what is in effect, the criminology of desire for counterfeit goods, before outlining the market incentives for counterfeiting and related criminal activity.