"Narcotics", 20 March – 6 June 2020
Ok, got clean, great!
Now you`re there, stranded, naked before the world and before your mother. You notice that you have no hair on your body, even your eyelashes are gone; pure flesh, chewed like a spearmint Orbit and spit into tragedy. Your new life begins here. Welcome.
Social utopias are traditionally understood as hypothetical, harmonious societies where equilibrium between individuals and the system is reflective of lack of divides between classes, where nature is respected and preserved. The idea of the utopic is generally regarded as just an ideal, life is what it is … shit happens, cant be perfect. Everyone manages expectations daily, in their own way. When you get clean these issues become amplified, from iPhone speaker to a 150euro JBL Bluetooth speaker. It`s loud, there’s noise now and you`re really struggling to reconcile expectations with reality.
The 12-step program and its denominations – NA: Narcotics Anonymous, CA: Cocaine Anonymous, AA: Alcoholics Anonymous etc – is an addiction recovery template system that serves as a sort of measure and guideline to get clean and stay clean. Rehab program lingo and aspirations are often based on equilibriums reminiscent of utopic discourses on the “good life”. Benevolent but somewhat ambiguous these steps are not easy to climb.
Recovering addicts often struggle with appropriating an ethical system that exists in conflict with their previous one, that is perhaps the hardest part of any form of recovery; change. Early clean days feel a bit like an open-world game, windows and signs pop-up as you race through familiar spaces. Recovery is as ambiguous as life itself.
Considered as the least exciting chapter in the drug experience narrative, it has consequently been treated a bit like a taboo in “radical” fictive contexts dealing with addiction or drug use. In literature or cinema - as an example - the portrayal of recovery often starts an ends with the drama of sickness and detoxification, what follows is generally disregarded. In a way this exhibition is doing the opposite of that. “Narcotics” the exhibition is an update for the drug experience narrative OS and runs on an engine that Karilampi calls “euphoric aesthetical expression”, a sort of guilt-free celebratory stance in relation to addiction and recovery.
Addiction is a relationship. In love, you realize it’s over when u don’t feel like throwing up when u imagine your girl or boy or other fucking someone else, unless your into that … with drugs its also a bit like that … u feel when its over. Contrary to the binary ethos of drug counterculture; clean doesn’t have to be square, and with this show Karilampi is also acting as a pro talk-show host, bringing together voices to revise the `drug experience narrative` in all its dimensions and complexities, shame-free and recovery included. For Karilampi is first and foremost a storyteller, and his output over the years has been a bit like an odyssey: from the streets to the club, via those art-world dinners – where little eating happens – all the way to rehab and back again. Life: from VIP rooms to street support.
All this make me wonder what early cave paintings would have looked like if our uggo ancestors partied a bit more and hunted a bit less … but then again the addict is not unlike the hunter and drugs really make you ugly.
The Opioid Crisis Lookbook