Bitter Poppies

Bitter Poppies

EXploded screen


This installation draws content from Adam Curtis’s documentary “Bitter Lake”. Curtis’s film looks at the story of Afghanistan’s attempt to replicate the economic growth seen in 1940s USA from building a series of hydroelectric dams. Unlike America, the Afghani dams destroy the water table of the region, leaving the once fertile country unable to grow produce or graze animals. The new soil is however uniquely suited for growing opium poppies. From the mid-1990s Afghanistan becomes the number one producer of opium and heroin worldwide.

A four walled structure with a raised platform in the interior greets the audience, on each wall projections of poppies are gracefully waving in the wind accompanied by the gentle music of La Bayadere’s “Moderato”. The central platform is unstable, becoming tilted as soon as anyone attempts to step into the interior of the structure. This causes the poppy footage to be replaced by various images of war and heroin addiction, rapidly flickering onto the walls as the user attempts to regain their balance. The poppies only reappear if the audience can level the platform. 

Reinterpreting the affect of Curtis’s stylistic technique, of contrasting disturbing and uplifting footage with alternative audio, into a visceral experience, by recreating the general sense of uneasiness this embodied, we played with the uncertainty of interpretation of the events being shown.

Made in collaboration with Helen Mair & Ava Watson

Media RCA News