6 Works Of Art Made Possible By An Absurd Amount Of Drugs
The relationship between drugs and art is pretty straightforward: Artists put drugs inside their bodies and then expel them through their fingers in the form of strange paintings, statues, music etc. That's how the art/drug relationship usually goes, but there's another, arguably better way: Use the actual drugs to create the actual art. That way, you can write off drugs as a work expense! For instance...
An Artificial Intelligence Programmed To Buy Drugs
Created by Swiss art collective and spell-check nightmare !Mediengruppe Bitnik, Random Darknet Shopper is a software program installed on a laptop. The program's sole purpose is to shop on the Darknet, the sketchy parking lot below the information superhighway where drugs are sold. RDS is given a relatively tight budget of $100 in Bitcoins per week, which it can spend on whatever it chooses. In 2014, the program decided to throw a party and bought a baggie full of ecstasy pills, which, as per protocol, were shipped to the gallery.
The laptop and pills were confiscated by Swiss police after authorities tracked the purchase from Agora, a black-market e-commerce site which has since been shut down. As it turns out, it's pretty difficult to charge a randomized computer program with a crime. Which is unfortunate because we're sure any inmate would literally kill for the chance to have a laptop as their cellmate.
The random nature of the program kept the artists from being prosecuted, and the robot was returned to its owners in 2015 (minus the ecstasy, which was destroyed). After a switch to AlphaBay Market as its shop of choice, the Random Darknet Shopper's first purchase was a hilariously-appropriate-for-an-ecstasy-dealer knockoff Lacoste polo shirt. We imagine it will wear it with the collar popped.
A Literal Cocaine Buffet
In 1992, Rob Pruitt installed black-power posters and soul music records on the walls of a prestigious NY gallery, said it was a commentary on African-Americans and marketing, and waited for impressionable young graduate students to bring him their panties. Instead, he was called a racist and asked to never art again. Six years later, he weaseled his way back into the good graces of the creative community by offering them a 50-foot-long line of coke, which he was smart enough to (barely) disguise as art.
His 1998 installation, fittingly titled Cocaine Buffet, has become something of a legend in the New York art scene. The cocaine was laid out on a series of narrow mirrors that curved and snaked across the floor of a rented studio space for a span longer than a school bus. It was supposedly part of some larger exhibition, but everybody knew what the coke really was: A peace offering that only a New York artist in the '90s with nothing left to lose could come up with.
According to Pruitt, the cocaine itself only cost him the usual "few hundred dollars for a temporary thrill," but the memories will last forever. That's right, the "buffet" was actually snorted by "art lovers," and only lasted about 10 minutes. Perhaps due to this goodwill gesture, Pruitt remains a respected member of the art community and maintains a modest but respectable pool of grad-panties (plus he undoubtedly gets asked to cater a lot of events).
Self Portraits While Under The Influence Of ... Everything
Everybody wants to get paid for doing what they love: Peter Paul Rubens loved fat-bottomed girls, so he made a living painting them. As for Bryan Lewis Saunders, well, he loved doing drugs. No, he really loved drugs. Saunders's early art revolved around taking one specific drug, then drawing a self-portrait while under its influence. He would take everything from pot to bath salts, which is why his work ranges from weirdly entrancing to Sloth from Goonies as drawn by a drunken newborn.
On Adderall, he envisioned himself as a snake, taking the time to carefully draw each and every scale with the utmost precision. Then, while on pot, he drew himself as the Pillsbury Doughboy because ... yeah.
He's a druggie's hero: Just don't follow Saunders' example to the end and give yourself brain damage by taking too many drugs. Don't worry, he's fine now, and has actually moved on to other artistic inspirations like love, or his own body hair. Same difference.
Giant Mosaics Made Of Actual Ecstasy Pills
London artist Chemical X is used to having his shows shut down by the authorities. No, it's not purely due to artistic censorship -- X's medium just so happens to be ecstasy pills. Thousands of which he arranges by color into interesting shapes, then exhibits at legitimate galleries (while occasionally forgetting to tell the owners that the pills are actually illegal narcotics).
The artist has his own brand of house-made ecstasy that he creates himself. According to X, he and his team "buy the 'ingredients' wholesale and make the pills in-house at a secret location." In 2014, he made enough of them (about 10,000) to create two huge faux-stained glass windows, because there are many ways to provoke a "religious experience."
If this is all sounding like the flimsiest front a drug runner ever concocted, well, that may not be entirely wrong. X has made some ominously vague statements about a "contingency plan" for the day authorities get wind of his secret ecstasy lab. For some reason, we suspect he's not talking about switching to Tylenol.
A Performance Artist Has Audiences Watch Her Near-Overdose
Marina Abramovic has a passion in life, and that is almost losing her life for her passion: art.
Back in the '70s, Abramovic was willing to go to great and terrifying lengths for the sake of performance art. She carved a pentagram into her stomach, had her then-partner aim an arrow at her heart, and allowed audiences to cut her with rose thorns and hold a loaded gun to her head, all for the sake of ... something (either art or sadomasochism, we're not sure). During her 1974 performance, Rhythm 2, Abramovic decided to take some antipsychotic drugs to see if "a state of unconsciousness" could feasibly be added to a performance artwork.
If you count lolling around on a chair in front of an audience "performance art," then Abramovic's experiment proved that, yes, it is possible.
Drug Branding Is An Art Form In Itself
Even if your drug of choice is illegal, somebody is out there trying to figure out how to brand it properly. Take glassine bags, the waxy, papery vessels for powdered heroin. In the '80s and '90s dealers stamped these bags with their own brands like "Dead Medicine," "Kiss of Death," "Flatliner" and "Killa." The morbid names actually seemed to help sales, presumably because of the users' dual love of drugs and irony.
The branded narcotics eventually found their way into legitimate art galleries: A 2010 exhibition in New York featured a mosaic made out of 1,800 glassine heroin bags. Which was either a statement about our society's complicated relationship with drugs, or the result of an artist's hasty excuse when the cops found their stash.