Heroin Chic: Prostitution & Drug Addiction Edition
By Ella Miista
Gigi Ben Artzi and Loral Amir have given heroin chic a new meaning – one that’s perhaps more accurate than the one we’re used to. Their project Downtown Divas focuses on heroin addicted Russian prostitutes. It’s a tricky subject. It’s easy to be patronizing, or instead appear to glamorise the lifestyle. The duo does neither. Artzi and Amir recognised some characteristics of drug addiction in the 90s heroin chic fashion craze. They contrasted high-end fashion with actual drug addiction and the results are striking. The glassy looks and dark circles underneath their eyes juxtaposed with Alexander Wang or Miu Miu… it stands out. It’s their reality – the fashion becomes absurd. The contrast isn’t to show the women as faces of drug addiction. Rather, it highlights their reality. The 7-minute film sees them talk about their dreams and favourite memories. They are emotional and vulnerable. They make jokes. They dance. They draw. They love music. They’re just like everyone else. Just, they’re addicted to drugs and mostly rely on prostitution as their income. Their drug addiction is what weighs them down. It’s what destroys them. But, it’s not all they are. The duo’s art project doesn’t show these women as outsiders. It gives them a voice, shows they are real. It’s heartbreaking, if you think of it. For a moment they get to play dress-up, have some fun but then it’s back to the real world. Far away from designer clothes, back to a zombie-like state of danger.