Gum architecture doesn't stand the test of time, but that's what Jérémy Laffon likes about it.

Chewing gum architecture doesn't stand the test of time, but that's what Jérémy Laffon likes about this unusual building material.

The French artist has spent the last few years getting familiar with the compressive strength of sticks of gum. The sight of one of his precarious, upright cityscapes (held together at the joints with glue) is only the beginning of the show.

Over the next few weeks, Laffon's house-of-cards-style structures soften, weaken, and eventually collapse in ways that are impossible to predict. Each gallery visitor sees only one of the construction's many forms.

"What interested me was the structural relationship of this unstable material," he writes in an email. "If just one stick of chewing gum begins to move, it initiates the process of collapse. Each movement producing another, producing another, etc."

"The structure became autonomous and evolved on its own. It no longer belongs to the artist."

Below, the gradual disintegration of "Chlorophénylalaninoplastomecanostressrhéologoductilviridis-cacosmographigum," a 2011 project that Laffon built at the Galerie Isabelle Gounod:

This represents a considerable structural evolution from Laffon's earliest work with chewing gum, a parquet floor patterned with different-colored sticks. At first, he bought gum from the supermarket, until Cadbury France eventually began supplying his construction materials.

A project like "Le Trésor de Mexico," a piece Laffon built last year for the exhibition Jusqu’à Epuisement in Marseilles, contains several thousand pieces of chewing gum, and took, Laffon says, "many weeks" to build:

Image 1
Image 2
Image 3
Image 4
Image 5

These days, Laffon is trying to construct more vertical structures, inspired by the children's block game Kapla, including a "globe" that weighs over 15 pounds.

Top image: "Sans Titre," Jérémy Laffon, 2011-2012.

All images courtesy of Jérémy Laffon.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. photo: bicyclists in Paris during a transit strike in December.
    Transportation

    Paris Mayor: It's Time for a '15-Minute City'

    In her re-election campaign, Mayor Anne Hidalgo says that every Paris resident should be able to meet their essential needs within a short walk or bike ride.

  2. photo: a wallet full of Yen bills.
    Life

    Japan’s Lost-and-Found System Is Insanely Good

    If you misplace your phone or wallet in Tokyo, chances are very good that you’ll get it back. Here’s why.

  3. Equity

    What Mike Bloomberg Got Wrong About Redlining and the Financial Crisis

    Comments about New Deal-era housing discrimination made by presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg echo a familiar narrative about minority homeowners.

  4. photo: Masdar City in Abu Dhabi
    Environment

    What Abu Dhabi’s City of the Future Looks Like Now

    At the UN’s World Urban Forum in Abu Dhabi, attendees toured Masdar City, the master-planned eco-complex designed to show off the UAE’s commitment to sustainability.

  5. Equity

    The Presidential Candidates that Mayors Support

    Big-city mayors favor Mike Bloomberg after his late entry into the race, while leaders in smaller cities have lined up behind Pete Buttigieg.

×