Artist Turns Contents of Discarded Drug Needles Into “Holy Water”

July 9, 2014 | Marina Galperina

Indonesian artist Irwan Ahmett, currently living in the Norwegian mountains, collected needles from a public park known to be a hotspot of intravenous drug activity and overdoses. He extracted the fluids inside and “re-purified” them.

“It’s a metaphor of what is holiness and how the society could accept the reality about illegal drugs transaction and users that have layers of complex and dilemma problems,” he told Rebel:Art.

The water, which loses its bloody hues after being sterilized, was then prayed over in a church where Reverend Kari Veiteberg spoke quite sensitively about the project. “This is linked to my mission in the street,” she says in the video. “Cleansing, holy and unholy, clean and not clean… It is not separate.” She says that only when clean water meets a material can it be re-purified. For a matter or a person to experience “true renual,” the transformation can only come out of a “touched life experience.” It’s a sensitive spin on Transmutation, and one of the few interesting ways that Catholic rituals and art have been paralleled, if anything, for being more conceptual than dogmatic.