Ritual symbol, medicine, popular drug, poetic source of inspiration, foreign filth, cause of war, brown fairy, sacred smoke, satanic devilry, poison – there is hardly an epithet that has not been awarded to opium.
The exhibition Opium follows the trail of the sticky brown mass through the changing perceptions and valuations and sheds light on opium’s mythical, poetic, repulsive and inspirational dimensions across times and cultures.
“Admittedly, here the state prosecutor steps in. But I do not stand as witness. I defend nothing, nor do I judge. I merely contribute exonerating and incriminating evidence to the trial on opium.” Jean Cocteau, 1930.