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. Equity

    Capturing Black Bottom, a Detroit Neighborhood Lost to Urban Renewal

    “Black Bottom Street View,” now exhibiting at the Detroit Public Library, thoughtfully displays old images of the historic African American neighborhood in its final days.

  2. Transportation

    You Can’t Design Bike-Friendly Cities Without Considering Race and Class

    Bike equity is a powerful tool for reducing inequality. Too often, cycling infrastructure is tailored only to wealthy white cyclists.

  3. Design

    A History of the American Public Library

    A visual exploration of how a critical piece of social infrastructure came to be.

  4. Amazon HQ2

    Without Amazon HQ2, What Happens to Housing in Queens?

    The arrival of the tech company’s new headquarters was set to shake up the borough’s real estate market, driving up rents and spurring displacement. Now what?

  5. Multi-colored maps of Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Tampa, denoting neighborhood fragmentation
    Equity

    Urban Neighborhoods, Once Distinct by Race and Class, Are Blurring

    Yet in cities, affluent white neighborhoods and high-poverty black ones are outliers, resisting the fragmentation shown with other types of neighborhoods.