OXYCONTIN BLUES / 2019

In the media, portrayals of addiction range from the harrowing to the quasi-romantic. But when it comes to white, upper-middle class women, it’s become a trope to aestheticize their experience as nihilistic glamour. Referencing mainstream cinema and fashion photography, Malek’s images poke fun at this trend. In one photograph, we see a glum woman, pill bottles scattered nearby. In another, she seductively eats jelly beans from a plastic container, as if there’s no distinction between candies and pharmaceutical drugs. These darkly seductive works reveal the sociological undercurrents of what appears to be pure style, and raises questions about the role photography plays as a political tool.

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Jean Malek © 2020