The New York Times reported yesterday on a bit of pop-up protest art in the form of a giant heroin spoon, installed Friday morning outside of Purdue Pharma’s Stamford, CT headquarters. Purdue is the maker of the painkiller OxyContin.
The steel sculpture, which in photos evokes a kind of ad-hoc Claes Oldenburg, is by a Boston-based artist named Domenic Esposito. Via the Times: “The sculpture, about 10 feet long and weighing some 700 pounds, is a huge depiction of the sort of spoon addicts use to cook heroin before injecting it.” Esposito claimed he placed the piece outside the building to shame the pharmaceutical company and its founding Sackler family, during this time when protests and lawsuits abound around the key role that OxyContin plays in a mass opioid addiction epidemic. Esposito claims to have a relative who got hooked on heroin after experimenting with OxyContin.
The spoon had been hauled there around 8 am Friday by Esposito and a few others, and was pretty much immediately ordered by the police to be removed. It was gone by noon the same day. A gallerist, Fernando Luis Alvarez, who was about to open a show featuring some of Esposito’s drug-addiction-themed works in a nearby art space, had helped Esposito place the work at the headquarters, and he was arrested for refusing to budge the piece, which was blocking Purdue’s drive. “He was detained briefly before being released.”
A Purdue spokesman has responded on behalf of the company: “We share the protesters’ concern about the opioid crisis and respect their right to peacefully express themselves.”
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