All In — Buying Into the Drug Trade

Running for one more week in the Los Angeles-based Little Big Man Gallery: the extraordinary show named ‘All In – Buying Into the Drug Trade’ by British photographer Graham MacIndoe, his first solo exhibition in the USA. Each image from the show is a variation on a single object: a small glassine heroin bag stamped with an exotic or bleakly satirical brand name, all collected by MacIndoe when he was an addict. Enterprising dealers brand and market their product like entrepreneurs in any business, with references to popular culture: Twilight, Crooklyn, New Jack City, and nods to consumer aspirations: First Class, Rolex, Obsession. The logos stamped on the baggies range from the conceptually clever to the knowingly ominous, like Dead Medicine paired with a skull and crossbones. MacIndoe’s own obsessive nature – as a photographer and a recovering addict – underscores the repetition of the images, all perfectly lit and precisely composed. But the now empty baggies are devoid of the emotional chaos of addiction; the photos are clinical and detached, almost aestheticized, yet still carry the residue of a former life in their stains and ragged edges.

In the introduction to the limited edition book of the project, published by Little Big Man Books, Guardian writer Sean O’Hagan quotes Warren Buffet:

Your premium brand had better deliver something special, or it is not going to get the business.” So what other product could be branded as “Toxic” or “Killa” and still sell?

Born in Scotland, Graham MacIndoe studied painting at Edinburgh College of Art and received a master’s degree in photography at the Royal College of Art in London. After moving to New York, he worked for publications including The Guardian, I.D., W Magazine and The New York Times Magazine. His photographs are in many private and public collections including Scotland’s National Portrait Gallery, the V&A Museum in London, the British Museum of Film and Television and the British Council. He is an adjunct professor of photography in the School of Art, Media and Technology at Parsons The New School in New York City.

Make sure to see this unique look on a world one better stays away from.

Buy the amazing book that was released with the show here.

For more information see here.