Crack Bags and Lighters statement in response to the theme of the International Photography Festival in Odense, Denmark for which this work was realized.
For several years, the artist collected used crack bags and lighters on walks throughout various neighborhoods in Washington, DC. These objects are easily recognizable as traces of drug abuse to some while less familiar to others. Perhaps the objects are merely identified as evidence of an illegal activity; detritus left by drug addicts, moral-less undesirables, the weak, the poor or the over-indulgent. This rather simplified understanding could be a result of privilege, sheltered naivety or perhaps a disgust that doesn't allow for a more nuanced understanding of a situation that is usually much more complex and many times institutionally perpetuated.
If looked upon critically the crack
bags and lighters point to crucial issues of abuse, poverty, violence and
racism that is in as endless of a supply as the crack bags and lighters
themselves. In most cities around the
world this evidence of "undesirable problems" is quickly cleaned up,
kicked aside or swept into the sewers because they are seen as an affront to
the normative ideals and fantasies that constitutes "the good life",
in a very political act of internment.
Responding with a refusal to look away, large banners with "portraits" of these objects will hang in storefront windows around Odense, DK, serving as evidence. By presenting crack bags and lighters as aestheticized traces of institutional abuse and crime alongside the commercial visual culture of advertisements these objects are singled out as proof but also demand others to look and to consider the relevance and relationship to these world wide – yet locally differentiating – problematic agendas.