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group project; not a DNA test

kendall long gum documentation IMG_5746-crp larger.jpg

I've been photographing bits of gum on the street: stuff that's been inside of people. The images all look somewhat the same but also like ghost bones or tortured meat: stand-ins for the internal, not skins and faces. You can't tell anything about the chewers (it's gum) but at the same time it's had their spit and you could run a DNA test and learn about them. In some ways it's a group project and you can see the marks of people's shoes, or soot, or bleaching from the sun. I'm interested in the discarded gum for its materiality and form, but also for its anonymous histories.

I'm still trying to figure out how write or make work about Ferguson, fracking, ISIS, or the anthropocene in a way that feels real or supportive and this is the closest I've got. I'm not interested in extracting information about the chewers, it's the facelessness I'm drawn to, and the ubiquity and overlap. So far I've shot images in England, France, and the US but you can't tell from looking at them. They just hang together and I wish we could all drop our differences and do the same.

These images are part of an ongoing series of photographs that I began in late 2015. At present I have several hundred of them. I show the prints in masses, installation style, unframed and usually adhered directly to the wall, as well as singly. I began this project several weeks before the Paris shootings of November 2015. Like many people I am searching for ways to bridge the growing divides of our country and world. Increasingly I see the works as necessary excavations towards a point of commonality from which rebuilding and rebonding (yes, cohesion, sticking together) might occur.

Here's a snippet of an interview about the project from 2020:

soho-gum-web-2-4 set copy.jpg
philly-gum-web-4 set copy.jpg
back bay-gum-web-4 set3 copy.jpg
gums composite-row 1 copy.jpg
gums composite-row 2 adj.jpg

above: a selection of images from the project

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