Artists Domenic Esposito and Fernando Alvarez present send Purdue Pharma
An artist installed a bent drug spoon, one that resembles those used to heat up heroin, and placed it at the entrance to drugmaker Purdue Pharma in Connecticut on Friday. Weighing nearly 800 pounds and 11-feet long the piece is in protest to what the artist Domenic Esposito believes is an epidemic of opioid use.
Esposito along with fellow gallery owner Fernando Alvarez refused to move the piece resulting in the arrest of Alvarez for obstruction of free passage.
A city work crew upended the spoon where it was taken to police headquarters as evidence.
According to the Associated Press Purdue Pharma is being sued by local and state governments for what they describe as tactics to boost sales of OxyContin, that includes deception of the medication's long-term risks which may result in addiction and death.
Purdue Pharma denies these claims.
“We share the protesters’ concern about the opioid crisis, and respect their right to peacefully express themselves,” the company said on Friday. “Purdue is committed to working collaboratively with those affected by this public health crisis on meaningful solutions to help stem the tide of opioid-related overdose deaths.”
According to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report taken from October 2016 to October 2107, deaths from opioid overdoses rose to 46,000, that's 15-percent over what they were in 2016.
For Esposito, who is from Westwood, Massachusetts, the sculpture is personal. His brother suffers from addiction and although he has been clean since March, before that he almost died and was in and out of jail.
In fact, the inspiration for the spoon sculpture was inspired by his mother who found one that was used by his brother.
“The spoon has always been an albatross for my family,” Esposito said. “It’s kind of an emotional symbol, a dark symbol for me.
“This is just a movement for accountability,” he said. “Percocet and OxyContin are still all over the streets. Nothing’s changed. People are still dying. ... It’s also a calling for the federal government to step in and do something.”
On Friday, Alvarez’s gallery in Stamford opened an exhibit in which editorialize the opioid crisis. Called "Opioid: Express Yourself" it's described as an "Artist-led exhibition that targets the architects of opioid addiction." It will run until the end of July.