Smoking Up On Vintage: Mumbai-Based Artist Uses Collage To Dismantle The Stigma Around Cannabis

Smoking Up On Vintage: Mumbai-Based Artist Uses Collage To Dismantle The Stigma Around Cannabis
Art by @psycollagist

Ganja, Marijuana, Mary Jane, Kush, Pot, Maal, Weed, Bhang, Haze — no matter what you call it, cannabis has been used in the country for as long as you could think of. No matter how much of a stickler for rules we might be, quite a few of us have smoked up at quite a few odd occasions in our life.

Once I had discovered what it really felt like to smoke up, college lectures were never the same again. It made me feel light and easy, and less squeamish about being myself. An almost unfortunate repercussion was a sudden surge of self-confidence which ended up making me speak up on occasions and get entangled in confrontations that could very well have been avoided. Alas! One cannot deny the transient boldness that it provides.

However, it is probably also one of the reasons why cannabis use has an element of stigma attached to it. A collage artist from Mumbai who goes by the name @psycollagist on Instagram has recently featured a series of collages with the intention of dismantling the stigma around cannabis through decontextualisation. He makes use of vintage imagery and images of cannabis to create novel juxtapositions through the craft of collage. He says, “The process of creating a collage is quite mysterious as it comes extremely close to mimicking the primary patterns of the human subconscious… Putting dissimilar pieces together, to suggest something completely different is only possible through the means of collage.”

For him, ‘collage’ is a form of expression that can be used to capture figments of imagination that is otherwise elusive and incorporeal. The craft of collage also serves to engender art that is a striking blend of the old and the new, evoking an impression of contrast and incongruity. “Making collage is therapeutic for me,” he adds. “I can be lost in there for days.”

He feels that specific juxtapositions within a collage are direct manifestations of one’s subconscious and that the artist is not always the one in control regarding what one particular piece of work might connotate going forward. “The process has a very psychedelic quality, where you are not really in control. This is the reason why I call them psychedelic collages.” Through these collages, he wishes to evoke the simple fact that there is a hidden world out there within each and every one of us, which we need to get in touch with, in order to tap into our inner urges and impulses. It might just bring us more in tune with who we really are and the inevitable destiny of mortality that we all share.

He believes that cannabis could be legalised in India very soon since it is nowhere nearly as harmful as synthetic drugs and even alcohol if used for a long period of time. He affirms, “There is actual evidence to suggest that this herb was used as a medicine to treat ailments for more than 3000 years. Some of the recent studies on cancer cells suggest that cannabinoids found in this plant can slow down the growth or even kill certain types of cancer.”

“Moreover, legalisation will eliminate the illegal trade and replace the black market production/ distribution with a proper overboard industry which can be regulated and taxed by the government. Looking at the abundant natural geographic distribution of the cannabis crop across India, a huge specialised market can be created for the same. It is quite certain that legalisation will help India economically as well, by generating a huge amount of revenue.”

However, despite the various medicinal uses of cannabis that he swears by, he feels that there is a fine line between use and abuse, which should be taken heed of. One needs to be aware of its various pros and cons, and practice moderation in its use. On the other hand, he also attacks the stigma associated with the recreational use of the drug in small doses. He strongly believes that the endorsement of various medicinal products like CBD oils and gels made out of cannabis can be used to challenge the various misconceptions around the narcotic, as well as dismantle the cultural stigma that has developed around it. As Lawrence Reed has rightly said, “Marijuana has killed far fewer people than swimming pools; it’s the war against it that does all the violence.”

You can check out his Instagram here.

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