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. A photo of a police officer in El Paso, Texas.
    Equity

    What New Research Says About Race and Police Shootings

    Two new studies have revived the long-running debate over how police respond to white criminal suspects versus African Americans.

  2. Four New York City police officers arresting a man.
    Equity

    The Price of Defunding the Police

    A new report fleshes out the controversial demand to cut police department budgets and reallocate those funds into healthcare, housing, jobs, and schools. Will that make communities of color safer?

  3. Equity

    The Problem With Research on Racial Bias and Police Shootings

    Despite new research on police brutality, we still have no idea whether violence toward African Americans is fueled by racial prejudice. That has consequences.

  4. photo: Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser speaks to reporters on June 1, after a weekend of widespread protests against police violence.
    Equity

    What Mayors Are Saying About the George Floyd Protests

    As demonstrations over the killing of George Floyd spread across the U.S., city leaders offered a range of responses to the unrest.

  5. photo: an open-plan office
    Life

    Even the Pandemic Can’t Kill the Open-Plan Office

    Even before coronavirus, many workers hated the open-plan office. Now that shared work spaces are a public health risk, employers are rethinking office design.

×