Matthew Brandt Night Sky Test #1 (2012)
For Matthew Brandt’s Night Sky Test #1 the artist silkscreened cocaine onto black velvet, creating facsimiles of the night sky.
Neville D’Almeida 24-CC3 (Maileryn/Cosmococa Programa in Progress) (1973)
C-print mounted on aluminum
Reverend Benjamin F. Perkins Cocaine Kills (1981)
‘Rev. Benjamin F. Perkins was pastor of his own church, Heartline Assembly Church of God. Perkins had a love of America that was inspiring. You can witness his strong love of God and country in the body of his work: the Statute of Liberty, the American flag and the church are all recurring themes in his art. According to Perkins, all my works have a message. If art don’t tell me anything, it’s not art. For example, in one painting of an American Flag Perkins states, The United States is great because our flag stands for freedom to worship God according to the dictates of our hearts desire. Perkins died in 1993 but his imagery and messages continue to live on in museums and art collections around the world.’
Swiss artist Comenius Roethlisberger has recently been exhibiting his latest commentary on luxury and society, “Dearest constellation, sweetest invitation” at Colette in France as well as at the Saatchi Galleries. The installation merges famous luxury brand logos with cocaine, all presented in clear polyester resin boxes, lit from below.
Rob Pruitt Cocaine Buffet (1998)
Conceptual artist Rob Pruitt was somewhat ostracized from the art world in the early ’90s, after creating a poorly received tribute to African-American culture. But when he returned to good graces in 1998, it was a peace offering of sorts that the artist offered his patrons. For a gallery opening, instead of big-budget paintings or sculptures, he laid a 50-foot line of cocaine across mirrors in the gallery for the viewers to snort, which they did. It played into a pattern of critique and celebration that Pruitt has been toying with for years.
A drugs kingpin who sold 1kg blocks of cocaine branded with Superman logos as a ‘trademark’ was jailed for eight years at the Old Bailey today. Ashley Wiltshire, 31, led a gang which used presses to stamp the logos on the £50,000 blocks.
Georg Herold Mountains of Cocaine (1990)
When I visited the exhibition ‘David Bowie Is’ at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (September 23, 2014-January 4, 2015), I was surprised to see his Berlin coke spoon on display. The object would seem to be deeply personal—it is brought close to the mucous membranes of a bodily orifice for the express purpose of altering one’s lived experience—and yet somehow the spoon does little to eliminate his mystique. Rather, the spoon further heightens interest in the “Thin White Duke” without marring his glamour. The fine, delicate coke spoon becomes a kind of avatar for the performer in the exhibition context—beautiful, penetrating, and impenetrable. Wall text indicates he used cocaine during a time when he was experiencing difficulty with success, creativity, and his relationships.
Daniel Knorr Powder (1994)
Five hundred grams of confiscated cocaine were spread out on the floor of the Galerie der Künstler in Munich, Germany and encased in bulletproof glass. A sketch was made in the powder, both in order to emphasize the artist’s participation and to minimize any tension that might result between the visitors and the police officers present. Two uniformed policemen and one undercover agent were on guard during the opening hours of the gallery. An information corner was set up by the police with materials about their work that passers-by were allowed to take with them.
Michel Auder Polaroid Cocaine (1993)
The thrill of cocaine becomes a metaphor for the consumption of images in this short montage. The title and lyrics come from Auder´s friend and 2001 Prix Goncourt winner Jean-Jacques Shuhl. The piece is composed entirely of still photographs from a variety of books and magazines that simultaneously reveal and feed an addiction to spectacle. With a source that is once removed, Auder’s scopophilia is symptomatic of society at large. The song is performed by legendary chanteuse Ingrid Caven. Suffused with a bittersweet melancholy, Canven’s seasoned voice compliments Auder’s selection of images which dwell on the themes of death, destruction and desire.
Corrupt Kids Unititled (2015)
Jon Kessler Yoga Mat (2014)
Last weekend Miami Beach hosted Art Basel, an annual congregation of Modern Art masters, curators, and enthusiasts. Since Basel (as the digital media-ites in attendance would refer to it), is just as well known for its spirited nightlife as it is for it’s crazy-cool art exhibits, we’re not particularly surprised that the party drug made an appearance in some of the work on display, though we were taken aback by the artist’s medium of choice. The design group that featured contemporary artist Jon Kessler’s cocaine yoga mat is known as Grey Area, “where art is made functional and the functional is made art.” When Grey Area commissioned seven artists to use yoga mats as canvases, their goal was to infuse art into the relationship between the spiritual aspects of yoga and the functional equipment of the exercise, for a complete sensory experience.
Tania Bruguera Untitled (2009)
As part of a performance project that commented on the ongoing cultural conflicts in Colombia and perceived stereotypes, Cuban artist Tania Bruguera staged a work in 2009 at the Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics. Her piece had three people talking into a microphone simultaneously. They represented a right-wing paramilitary fighter, a left-wing guerilla, and a displaced refugee. This was meant to symbolize the ineffective means of communication between the three groups in the years since conflict had come to the country. Then, an assistant with lines of cocaine on a tray walked among the audience, offering the drug to the patrons.
There is a museum in French city La Rochelle, which presents the drugs that tourists tried to take out of the country.
Cage for transporting dogs (7,812 kg of cocaine)
13 snail shells 1,66 kg of cocaine
Platform shoes 900 grams of cocaine
Vinyl disc 12 grams of cocaine
Drilling Machine 2,19 kg of cocaine
Plaster 3,2 kg of cocaine
Brian Maguire Cocaine Laundry (2015)
acrylic on canvas
Dash Snow Eat Shit and Die (2005)
The late artist Dash Snow’s contribution to the 2006 Whitney Biennial that he purportedly used real cocaine as source material for his piece. It simply was a mirrored disc on a record player, the rim coated with cocaine, along with a drumhead behind the apparatus simply reading “Eat Shit and Die.”
Artist Nir Hod has created limited edition coasters in gold or black that give the illusion of having freshly cut lines of cocaine upon them.
Anonymous Untitled (2014)
Diddo Ecce Animal (2013)
Early this month, people on the Internet were confused and outraged, by the appearance of this skull made out of compressed cocaine and gelatin. The fact that it was called “art” miffed many viewers. Why? How much did it cost? Where is it now? Because the piece was commissioned, the artist refused many questions asked of him.
Cornelia Parker Exhaled Cocaine (1996)
Parker convinced customs agents to give her the ashes of seized cocaine. (Authorities burn the substance when it is confiscated, as it destroys and purifies it.) But the interesting thing about the title of this piece is that it is impossible to exhale cocaine.
Leave it to a country ravaged by violent, drug war-fueled deaths to produce an artist with a gloriously morbid message. Teresa Margolles, an artist and morgue employee in Mexico City with a degree in forensic medicine, spends A LOT of time with A LOT of corpses, on top of coming from one of the more affected areas of Mexico, Culiacán (See: Mexico’s Drug War: The Battle for Culiacán). Many of the bodies she sees are victims of violence or drug abuse; a good number are young, some are children; and many of them are anonymous and unclaimed. She’s seen her fair share of proof that our teeny, tiny lives are fragile, and has earned the right to shove it in our faces. Literally.
Lorenzo Belenguer Aquí Se Vende Cocaina | We Sell Cocaine Here (2012)
Limited Edition of 200. A4 signed and numbered. Printed on top quality hahnemuhle paper. Giclée Printing. £200 each.
Yu Bo-gong Cocaine (2008)
The Austrian Empress Sisi’s cocaine syringe is now kept at a museum. It was part of her travel first aid kit. Cocaine was widely used in the 19th century as a sedative and anti-depressant.
Brazilian artist Hélio Oiticica (1937-1980) moved to New York in 1971 to run away from the Brazilian coup d’état of 1964, and became fascinated with the post-Stonewall gay liberation movement, and with lower Manhattan’s underground gay scene. He was inspired by queer cinema pioneer Jack Smith, worked with gender illusionist Mario Montez — Andy Warhol’s first drag superstar — and he denounced the commercialization of the queer art scene in New York. Decades before today’s celebrity scandalous tapes, Oiticica filmed himself masturbating, having sex with another man, and having the time of his life with cocaine— all of which can be seen in the excellent 2012 documentary Hélio Oiticica, directed by his nephew César Oiticica Filho. (Explaining 1973’s “Cosmococa,” Oiticica proclaims “Cocaine is the light,” snorting happily as he used the drug to make drawings on top of Weasels Ripped My Flesh, an album by the band Mothers of Invention.)
In the Tenderloin, San Francisco artist KATSU bought $250 worth of crack cocaine. The crack, though, wasn’t intended for personal use, but was simply KATSU’s next experimental medium. A 3D printer spent the night replicating his score at a much larger scale for a message about gentrification.
Could you tell us more about your decision to turn ephemera and cocaine into art? Was it a conscious decision to make them, instinctive even? Jac Leirner: They were (made over) four binges. One for each little sculpture piece: One head, one heart, one cone, and the sphere with a wheel. Each piece had been a perfect cylinder of three to five grams of cocaine. One piece for each night and hundreds and hundreds of really bad photographs. Most of them out of focus, (the) worst quality possible, although I tried to make interesting areas of light and shadow, making use of whatever I had at hand. That whole situation had to make some sense. In my mind were Helio Oiticica and Neville d’Almeida with their amazing “Cosmococa” – which are endless fat lines of cocaine over the cover of the record War Heroes by Jimi Hendrix or an iconic picture of Marilyn Monroe. These works were made in the early 70s when they were in New York. Using sculpture tools to make tiny sculptures out of cocaine rocks made me really excited. I knew the material would turn into something special despite my difficulty dealing with photographic images in terms of my art. I prefer to work with real presences, things. But I made all these images and finally the wall sculptures out of them. It took me years to solve the situation but I finally came to an end.
Király András Untitled (2017)
Bell pepper powder in two lines on a mirror, which looks like two lines of cocaine.
Lorenzo Belenguer Thames River Water — High in Cocaine — Please Drink Responsibly (2021)
‘In 2019, scientists at the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction revealed London to have one of Europe’s highest concentration of cocaine in sewage, with an average daily concentration of the substance in waste water at 618mg of cocaine was flushed away per 1,000 people each day.” Partially ending in the Thames river. Levels of Cocaine are so high in the Thames River that eels are becoming hyperactive.’
Berlin-based artist Sarah Schönfeld took a pseudo-scientific approach to her All You Can Feel project, which sought to visually depict the essence of common recreational drugs – both those which are lab-engineered and naturally-occurring. She squeezed drops of each substance, in this case cocaine, onto already-exposed negative film and enlarged the chemical reactions they revealed.
Watching friends carefully do lines of cocaine during a house party in New York; designer and artist Sebastián Errázuriz sipped away his whiskey and thought that what his friends were doing was totally wrong. While his friends continued partying, Sebastiaán Errázuriz retreated to a corner and started scribbling away notes. The next party Errazuriz arrived with a gift he had designed for his friends. “I thought this might make the whole process a lot easier” he said while handing the first prototype of his stainless steel “Cocaine Slab.” With four linear slots embedded in the steel, the new “Coke Slab” allowed the “user” to create four perfect cocaine lines by simply swiping the drug over the slots. His friend thanked him but laughed: “You can tell cocaine is not your thing Sebastián; these lines are way too fat… I’d go crazy if I did lines that size!” With a little help from his friends, the Coke Slab design was perfected and is now a limited edition design/art piece.
Switzerland is famous for its chocolate, cuckoo clocks, secretive banking system, ski slopes and finely crafted watches. Speaking of powdery white slopes, it’s also now one of the biggest consumers of cocaine per capita in the world. That surprising little fact inspired Swiss artist Onur Dinc to use the drug in one of his recent artworks titled ‘Snowing in Zürich’.
Terence Koh Cokehead (2006)
‘Terence Koh’s Cokehead is a cast bust of Hermes, the Greek god of travel and guider of souls to the land of the dead. Replicating the crystalline lure of cocaine, the sculpture is coated with diamond dust and sugar, a metaphoric veneer of sweetness, temptation, and indulgence. Encased within a glass vitrine, Cokehead stands as a relic of forbidden pleasure, his nymph-like form suggests sexual enticement and immortal power mounted on a base of powdering decay.’
Robert Sebbag Snowblind (1976/1998)
‘Damien Hirst designed book has a slipcase, thick glass mirrors for front and back covers, a fake metal credit card as a bookmark, and a rolled up $100 bill concealed within a well cut hole in the middle pages, around which the text flows. Hirst describes this edition as ‘an art object with a story running through it’. The story is Robert Sabbag’s 1976 cult classic Snowblind, which recounts the tale of Zachary Swan, a middle-aged advertising executive turned drug smuggler. It was the first book to take a look inside the cocaine trade, and was described by Hunter S Thompson as ‘a flat-out ball buster. It moves like a threshing machine with a fuel tank of ether.’
Meg Cranston from God Love the Tragic Artist: Meg Cranston on the Life of Marvin Gaye, 1995
Ink on paper
Marvin Ate an Ounce of Cocaine
p.s. Hey. ** Dominik, Hi!!! Done deal! Me too, about weekends. And about the lack of neck pain too. When I was a kid, it was popular amongst adults to tell someone that he or she or they were being obnoxious by saying, ‘You’re a pain in the neck!’ For some reason the one that most tickled me was ‘Do not want’, I don’t know why. I guess stealthily recording stealthy people makes sense if you really think about it. I wonder if lazily recording lazy people would work too? Love giving every cokehead a gram of cocaine while saying ‘Tsk tsk’, G. ** David Ehrenstein, The French can be very good at overanalysing American stuff, or finding its flaws very charming, I should say they used to be, I guess. God love them. I remember in that famous interview between Mitterand and Duras how Mitterand went on about how charming Ronald Reagan was. ** _Black_Acrylic, Oh, given your current reading material, today’s post is so apt perhaps. I’ll check out that book. Thanks, buddy. ** Steve Erickson, I think the post was an equal opportunity mocker. Better than nothing: the Renoir/Rivette tidbits. I wonder if it’s on that comprehensive French Rivette DVD? ** Gick, Oh, gosh, thanks, pal. I will lyk. (Is that a common use abbreviation?) I think I’m too hyperactive or something for spas. I’ve enjoyed the ones I’ve been to, but all that lounging around in utter comfort makes me very antsy. I don’t know ‘After Sappho’, no, but I will investigate. What makes you preemptively view your upcoming zoom as possibly underwhelming, pray tell? This week … uh … I’m being interviewed tomorrow about a late, great gallerist friend of mine for a book about him, big Zoom powwow about the film on Thursday, meeting with Gisele on Friday to find out how she wants me to proceed with the text for her new piece, and as yet unknown other things. You and yours? ** AUTUMN GLINT, I’m imagining music in the background of your poem/lyric, and it’s very discordant and throws the sincerity of the words’ sentiment into question. ** Robert, I’m good, Robert, how are you? My weekend was uneventfully alright for the most part. Oh, right, Thanksgiving. Did you guys do it up in the traditional manner? Which I guess means tons of eating and tons of football on the TV and I guess a fair amount drinking? Ouch, me too, about sleep. If I don’t get 8 hours night, I’m a wreck. Very annoying. Are you rested and back in close contact with your muse now? ** malcolm, Oh, gosh, thanks. I don’t know what came over me. I’ll try to make whatever it was come over me again. Ha ha, funny, 17 hours. Well, if she was a true friend, she wouldn’t let that stop her. Well, more like if she was an insane friend. That’s interesting about the coziness of Cape Breton’s inhabitants. I really like the sound of that, being a lifelong big city dweller. Although when I lived in Amsterdam, it was actually kind of like that in the winter. Except that the Dutch (gross generalisation alert) are so standoffish emotionally that it just made living there feel even lonelier. I very rarely remember my dreams. Sometimes I’ll briefly remember the last scene when I was up, but it dissipates immediately. When I do remember them, they’re always about someone trying to kill me, and me trying not to be killed. Literally always. Which is strange because I’m pretty trusting and mellow in the real world. I wish your dreams were a sentient being so I could thank them for indirectly hooking you up with my stuff. Late very happy b’day to Alexander. Did you guys eat a cake? And a happiest ever Tuesday to you! ** Right. Sometimes I really miss stupid cocaine. Obviously, I guess. Ha ha. See you tomorrow.