Art is anything you create. Art museums around the world have made exhibits out of trash that have attracted millions of viewers. From recycled milk cartons to scrap metal, the creations made have been truly aesthetic and creative. Recently, the idea of creating art while educating the public on drug use has become a popular topic. Up-and-coming artists have created art pieces using old cigarette butts while simultaneously saving the earth, since these pieces of trash are not biodegradable. A local photographer in London, Dan Giannopoulos, collects “drug baggies,” photographs them and turns them into aesthetically pleasing art pieces.
“Drug baggies” are storage bags that measure about 4-by-4 inches and can contain any type of drug from cocaine to marijuana. This photographer has been rummaging the streets of London looking for and photographing these baggies and recording their location to track the drug use. Usually, these baggies will have a specific symbol such as a happy face or a black widow spider. Medicinal marijuana will show the name of the marijuana dispensary with the iconic image of the marijuana plant.
“It’s something he had been planning to do for quite some time, but the thought of accumulating trash for a project seemed like a ‘scummy activity.’ So he held off for a while until one day he discovered a ‘baggie’ near his home with an intriguing black widow spider design. He picked it up and began what he now calls, the ‘Discarded Drug Baggies’ project,” CNN reported.
From trash to treasure
When the photographer locates a drug baggie, he posts the location on a map to chart and analyze the patterns of the bags and to maybe link the neighborhoods with the highest drug-selling rates in the London area. He has seen over 67 variations of these baggies with different images. He finds these bags mainly in poor areas but some wealthier areas as well. Bars, clubs, parks, schools and alleys are just some common public places where these baggies appear. It would be somewhat alarming to find a drug baggie on a child’s playground, but this project illustrates that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.
The CNN article continued: “His intended end result for the project was to create a large digital collage of all the baggies to illustrate drug culture in London and the ubiquitous baggies that symbolize these illicit acts. He never had a particular number in mind, but when he recently finished the project, the final total was ironically, and entirely unintentionally, 420 baggies. Giannopoulos is working with the Ben Oakley Gallery, a commercial art venue in South East London, to create an exhibition that will be displayed this June.”
Art has been a way to transform an ugly, bad habit into a beautiful and educational subject. An example that has been portrayed all over the world is graffiti art. Graffiti art has often been used to cover up walls, bridges and other public cement area where gang tagging has occurred. The Berlin wall, once a sign of communism and darkness is now a true work of art due to the beautiful graffiti art depicted on it. Turning trash and illegal tagging into works of art has put a positive and creative twist on the remnants of bad behavior. The Discarded Drug Baggies project can hopefully shed light on the drug issue in London while also proving that even a piece of trash can become beautiful. It is all about perspective.
Sovereign Health of Rancho San Diego treats adolescents with substance addictions, mental health disorders and co-occurring conditions. For more information, please call our 24/7 helpline.
About the author
Kristen Fuller, M.D., is a senior staff writer at the Sovereign Health Group and enjoys writing about evidence-based topics in the cutting-edge world of medicine. She is a physician and author, who also teaches, practices medicine in the urgent care setting and contributes to medicine board education. She is also an outdoor and dog enthusiast. For more information and other inquiries about this article, please contact the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.