Issei Watanabe’s "Till Death Do Us Part"

Issei Watanabe, a student in Pratt’s MFA program, created the following brilliant work of conceptual art: a wedding ring formed of pure crystal meth.

Here is his artist’s statement about the piece.

A sculpture entitled “Until Death Do Us Part”

For my thesis exhibition I created a wedding ring out of methamphetamine. It is in the form and size of a traditional wedding ring, but instead of gold, it made out of methamphetamine.

The artwork is focus on issues of drug abuse and drug laws.
The idea of the work comes from the expression “married to …” which is often used to describe bonding to something, addiction, or loving to death. My artwork suggests that addicts are married to the substance they abuse.

The work highlights the range of laws dealing with drug use and drug possession. In some countries conviction of drug possession leads to a short imprisonment, while in other countries it leads to the death penalty. This artwork could be exhibited in only a few free countries.

The main purpose of this project is to expand the possibility of what art can be. I believe that artworks have the power to ask the public to think about social issues and the nature of art.

As part of my artwork I have had my blood tested for drug use. The test results, which are negative, are exhibited near my sculpture. I will not consume, manufacture, import, export or traffic in drugs. I used only a small amount of methamphetamine to apply in my artwork.

Issei Watanabe

(Issei’s drug test results)

Understandably, but also problematically, the dean of his department required him to cease exhibiting the piece. Your thoughts?

3 thoughts on “Issei Watanabe’s "Till Death Do Us Part"

  1. I think this is powerful. And should be exhibited.

    I think the artist's statement, “My artwork suggests that addicts are married to the substance they abuse,” show far too little faith in those who would see it. But maybe is necessary, yes, as part of a legal defense mechanism?

    I'm not sure I remember right, but Bruce Conner's late 50s / early 60s assemblage NARCOTICA, which toured with the mid-1990s Beat Culture show the Whitney organized, seems in my mind to have had reefer roaches maybe? Maybe sort of equivalent given the times back then? (The assemblage is urrently in teh collectio nof Indiana University, or some such.)

    Anyway, Watanabe's piece is brilliant. It sparkles. All without rotting my teeth.

  2. I'm sure Issei will be grateful for your support. Thanks for this and for your other comments as well. I am into the crunch time of the semester and can't always respond properly, but do know that your comments are appreciated.

  3. He should have obtained a departure card from Saudi Arabia on which is printed in red:

    Drug trafficking is subject to the death penalty.

    That would have been nice.

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