Elliott and Peter went to the White Box Gallery today to look at The Heroin Stamp Project, an exhibit of discarded heroin bags that reveal branding and marketing trends in the street-level drug trade. Upon these small packets are crudely stamped logos, often co-opted from the corporate ad sphere (Nike, Warner Bros., and Daily News were some of the borrowed logos), and others that feature original names and designs reflecting the dangerous allure of their contents (Candyman, Game Over, Last Temptation).
White Box has gone out of their way to avoid sensationalizing heroin use by pasting HIV and drug statistics all over their walls, which only slightly diminishes the show’s overall impact. They’ve made photographic enlargements of a few of the bags (which sell for aprox. $1800, another layer of co-opting and re-contextualizing), but the packets themselves are more intriguing without embellishment. As artifacts they provide a window to the dark side, a slight hint of what you might see if you traded in your will to live. No Pain, No Exit, Time Bomb, Game Over: unlike cigarette and alcohol advertising, these brands don’t hide the fact that they’re trafficking in pleasure and death. (In fact, the two may be inextricably linked, as in “la petite mort.”) Is the crowned skull “Forever King”?