Curated by Stephen Rae
With the full legalization of marijuana in New York underway, for this 4/20, the April 20th international cannabis holiday, we asked our artists for photographic depictions of an “altered state.” We all know what a “stoner movie” is; is there a still-photo equivalent?
“That would be all my work,” said one. “Pot helps me see patterns in things. If I weren’t a photographer, I’d probably play jazz.”
But one teetotaling artist achieves transfixing states of otherness by “working with one image for hours and hours, transforming it over and over and over into various manifestations.” This creative ritual “prevents the logical brain from interfering with the magic of the unconscious.”
For a third contributor, a picture of an altered state is a window on, or an aspiration toward, a sacred state, photography being a spiritual as well as an artistic discipline.
And a fourth adds: “To me, a visual depiction of an altered state is a picture that has a recognizable landscape—people, places, things—but also elements that ‘just aren’t right.’
“Those alterations could be from nefarious chemicals, mysterious mushrooms, faulty neurons, or maybe just Szechwan Shrimp left out in the sun too long.”