For those of you in the UK check out my feature in the Guardian Weekend Magazine tomorrow (print edition). Online multi media link to follow…
All In – Buying Into the Drug Trade
Photographs by Graham MacIndoe
The images in this series are of heroin baggies collected years ago during a period of addiction.
I became intrigued by the typography and design of the glassine envelopes used to package dope, stamped with references to popular culture like Twilight, Crooklyn and New Jack City. Dealers branded and marketed their product like entrepreneurs in any business, pairing names like Dead Medicine with a skull and crossbones to appeal to risk-takers, or an airplane labeled First Class to give the illusion of grandeur.
The addict becomes the ultimate consumer of the ultimate product — following a trail of quirky street names carefully chosen to be instantly recognizable to those in the know. But there is nothing hidden about the references to good times (So Amazing, True Romance, Gold Rush), juxtaposed with reminders of the gamble (9 Lives, Black Jack) and the reality of addiction (Flat Liner, Undertaker).
Lou Reed wrote the song “Perfect Day” to describe being on heroin, and that’s what every addict chases. But the marketing of that drug, like any product, doesn’t always lead us to what’s promised. These images are a reminder of both the power of desire and the things we as consumers want to believe will somehow change our lives.