In 2016, when I was living in Madrid, I became aware of the massive production of Papaver Somnifera that takes place each year in the Spanish fields. Spain is the second largest producer of legal opium in the world, after Australia. The Spanish landscape is a dry plateau, very cold in the winter, deadly hot in the summer. I wonder if Afghanistan is similar to Spain, it could be. When spring arrives, millions of flowers blossom, tall stems swing with delicate white petals that look as if they where giggling with the wind.
I've heard of caravans of opium thieves who travel to the fields to extract opium latex from the flowers. I've also heard of the numerous trap houses in the center of Madrid. I used to live in Embajadores, where the "cundas" would operate. Cundas where a sort of taxi service for addicts. At around five, you could see a growing number of jittering people filled with anxious need. The cunda would pick them up and take them to Cañada Real, where they could get a hit.
Heroin has always had a mystic enchantment. I blame popular culture for this. The truth is, the poppy has been present in human life since pre-historic times. When writing began, in Asia Minor, the Sumerians had already systematized the proper technique to extract opium from the flower, as they described so meticulously in their clay tablets, "the plant of Joy" they called it. Hypnos, the god of sleep, his brother, Thanatos, god of death, both sons of Nix, would inhabit a cave where the River Lethe flowed. Oblivion. It is said that no light or sound ever entered the cave, as it was surrounded by a heavy mist, and a field of poppies. Death drive, adorned with beautiful prose.
They say that the feeling of being on heroin is like that of a baby feeding off of it's mother's breast. A flat line. The baby has no conceptual frame, no symbolic apparatus. The baby is only real, and when he eats, he disappears. There are about 13 million heroin addicts in the world, according to a UN survey. There is a seventeen year long war, the longest in the United States history, going on in Afghanistan, where 90% of the world's stash of opium comes from. There is a multibillion dollar business made of OxyContin and the like. Prince died of a Fentanyl overdose. There are hundreds of songs, music videos dedicated to the drug. So all these apparent devotion is interesting to me.
This isn't a finished idea. It is more of an ongoing interest. So far I've produced some works regarding the wars and conflicts which have resulted in the massive production of opium and it's trafficking routes. I've made some installations mixing video works, playlists, mellow environments. I've gone to the fields and collected opium. But the subject is still at large. Perhaps because it is too grim and heavy to contain it, or maybe it just needs more time. We'll see.