Two New York artists, Katie Heffelfinger and Jed Miner, claim to have stumbled upon a massive collection of Courtney Love’s discarded pill bottles. The duo call themselves “occupytheartworld” and have been displaying the pharmaceutical detritus as an art sculpture since November. Last month in a terrifically titled story for Papermag, License to Pill, Heffelfinger explained their decision to show the work at a recent record fair:
“I thought about the most responsible way to display the stuff. I thought WFMU would have an erudite group of music listeners who would give me feedback about it as an art piece without slogging it through the mud.”
In what would have been the most fantastic episode of Storage Wars EVER, Heffelfinger and Miner say they found Love’s pill bottles, financial records, letters she wrote to various celebrities and her daughter Frances Bean Cobain and a heart-shaped box on a loading dock outside a storage unit facility in June. After trying to contact Love’s agent and manager to return the items with no success, Heffelfinger and Miner decided to turn the pill bottle stash into art. “Since her people couldn’t get back to me, I waited three months then decided to start displaying the work,” she says.
The sculpture, as it were, displays 57 pill bottles, and the pair intend to continue showing it. They express no fear of Love coming after them, with Miner casually saying: “We are prepared for that. Katie is a mud wrestling champion.”
Ordinarily, I’d ascribe to the “Finder’s Keepers” philosophy and enjoy the gossipy glimpse into the life of a tumultuous celebrity. However, somehow this feels…mean-spirited? If these prescriptions are the real deal, it’s even crazier than I thought that Love has outlasted Heath Ledger. If we’re meant to experience this as art, Heffelfinger and Miner could have gone for a less junked-out presentation, not quite Damien Hirst’s Medicine Cabinet, but perhaps something in between? And though Papermag, blurred out the prescribing physicians’ names in the photos, I’d be curious to know if anyone phoned the medical board to report some kind of East Coast Conrad Murray situation?
All in all, the craziness of being a collector trumps these ethical inquiries. Katie, Jed, if you’re reading this: How much do you want for Courtney’s Xanax bottle?
[If you’re curious as to what the medications are in the photo above: left to right: Abilify is a treatment for bi-polar disorder or schizophrenia and an add-on for depression; Dextroamp-Amphet is a generic form of Adderall, a drug used to treat ADD in kids and also popular among college students writing research papers; and Alprazolam, a generic for Xanax, a treatment for anxiety/panic disorder.]