Artist Daniel Allen Cohen, AKA This Is Addictive, Turns Vices Into Art

Artist Daniel Allen Cohen, AKA This Is Addictive, Turns Vices Into Art

Lindsey Bartlett, Contributor: Forbes

If you’ve dreamed of candy dispensers filled with diamonds, actual cannabis inside periodic tables, and giant candy bars that unwrap to literal gold, then This Is Addictive is your postmodern, drug-fueled Michelangelo.

California-based artist Daniel Allen Cohen created This Is Addictive in 2015. The alias represents Cohen’s vice-centric alter ego. He is the creator of infamous art pieces including the Periodic Table of Drugs. In it, all chemical substances— sugar, caffeine, marijuana, acid, ecstasy— are treated equally.

Cohen’s work walks a fine line between the abstract and the ironically brutal, displaying our desires when left to our own devices. Every piece is a thinker, packed with hilarious text, sometimes called the drug’s “nutritional facts”, that play on the ludicrous nature of the material item that the onlooker puts on a pedestal. The more you look, the more you see.

In the center of This Is Addictive’s art lies our fascination with addiction itself, whether it be gold and diamonds to substances like Xanax (this year, Cohen made giant Xanax Jenga sets called Tumbling Tablets, as well as a line of jewelry with Vardui Kara) to something as innocent as tacos. In 2020, he created Benjamin’s Bread, a loaf of bread bag with money in it (sculptures, not real stacks). One 2017 piece called “Warning – Smoke Two J’s” says what a Surgeon General’s warning may read for a cannabis joint: “Smoking marijuana will result in munchies, relaxing on your couch while binge-watching Netflix, and to give zero fucks about the shit you had to do today.”

I spoke with Cohen about his collaboration with the cannabis industry in a limited-edition, sell-out run of a Cannabis periodic element for 710 Labs, the California-based cannabis company with an art-obsessed and dedicated consumer base, as well as how cannabis and substances may be helping people move through and unpack the chaos of 2020 into 2021.

When was the first time you decided to marry cannabis and art with This Is Addictive?

Daniel Allen Cohen: It was probably in 2015, the end of 2015. I was making art part-time and before, like that year in early 2015, it was still creating my art be a little more pop-art. I was exploring, the This Is Addictive name had already arrived.

The first piece that I did was when I took the nutritional fact labeling and turned it into narcotics facts. I did the first two with cocaine and cannabis. I made those and put them up on Instagram, and they just caught fire. People were in love with the uniqueness of the pieces, the object inside. That’s when the pieces were born. When I began to see the connection.

What are the little sculptures inside made of, does it depend on the piece?

The object inside was the representation of the element. Some are real drugs, some are real objects, some are fake. I am not trying to go and hit the street in search of real substance. I don’t need to go get crystal meth or heroin off the street, in that case, I created something that looks real enough. For others, cannabis, mushrooms, some prescription drugs, those things that are more accessible and a little less taboo, not harmful, I’m more comfortable putting those in the piece. I know that somebody won’t break it open and abuse it.

I loved the 710 collaboration you did with the Cannabis element, selling an actual eighth of their cannabis in with it. Tell me how this partnership and art piece came about?

I had the pleasure of meeting Brad, the owner of 710 Labs. We came together and smoked at my studio and talked about the opportunity of creating a collaboration, the first cannabis element. I previously had done a Marijuana element. 710 are known for being a craft concentrate brand, with their live rosin, hash, vape, and those products. I’ve always just been a cannabis flower smoker. So they wanted to create a collaboration that was in line with me as an artist.

We created the 710 element of Cannabis, an eighth jar with three different variations of strains, Z – Cubed was one of my favorite of the featured strains. We then made about 30 collaboration art pieces that had their half-ounce jars inside the frame. The piece came with a half-o of their flower. The 1,000 Cannabis element boxes went to their dispensary network in California and Colorado and sold out within a week, there were lines around the block in some stores. We went to the dispensary and had a chance to meet people, and we did signings. We also did an awesome giveaway. Inside their normal product boxes, there were three golden tokens. Three winners were able to get three of the art pieces. We had an awesome event at my art studio, it was a special night. They went all out and had a cool chemistry-themed event. All the budtenders had lab coats and goggles, an epic dab bar, joints on trays, a cocktail bar. The Period Table of Drugs was on display. It was an awesome night.

Is there a 710 Labs collaboration coming in the future?

I recently visited the 710 Labs offices a couple of months ago and got a chance to connect with them. There have always been talks about doing another collaboration. They have an amazing following that loves supporting artists like myself. They’ve done an amazing job collaborating with other artists, as well. We have discussed it, but it hasn’t been finalized yet.

With COVID, we want to do it the right way, to where we can interact and have an event. I think having an event is definitely what some people are wanting as well. We’re waiting for the right time, where the event can happen and we can actually be social.

How have you used cannabis in your artwork, and in 2020-2021 in general, has it helped ease any anxiety or fear for you personally?

Cannabis for me has been such an amazing substance that I’ve been able to consume on a regular basis throughout this unprecedented year. I think a lot of people really saw why cannabis was deemed an essential business because, in as stressful times as this year, people needed something that they can help take a little bit of the stress off with everything that is going on.

I’ve always loved the effects of sativas, of how they can stimulate my brain’s activity in a creative way, and allow me to just tap into my artistry, get lost in the process of creating artwork. Whether it’s creating something new or working on something I started in the past. I also love the benefits of indica, how it can allow me to relax and reset and recharge. A mix of both has been a healthy balance for me, especially in that last year.

With other substances, I’ve micro-dosed mushrooms in the past year and found awesome benefits to that. Working to make my brain a little more elastic, the neuroplasticity of the brain. That’s been about it for me this year. I haven’t consumed much alcohol at all this year, obviously to help keep my immune system strong and just get away from the bad effects that alcohol can have.

Where do you see the cannabis industry in 5 years?

If it federally becomes legal, it is going to have a place to stay in not just culture, but in medicine. We, as a country, clearly after 2020, need cannabis. Going into 2021, people see not just the benefits of it from a consumption standpoint but economically, we are seeing benefits from it for tax purposes. In times like this, if we can stimulate the economy with this ‘Green Rush,’ we should. It could benefit a lot of people.

There’s a lot of money to be made in this space. And on all levels, whether it’s in the grow with cultivators, to the distribution, to the retail and consumer level. And obviously from a cultural standpoint, too, there’s entertainment and media that are creating shows around cannabis culture. There are so many different benefits. It’s only going to help in this country in the future.

Tell me about your exhibitions at Art Basel, I know we miss it this year with 2020, were you able to do more shows?

I was lucky enough do to LA Art Show in February. China was going into lockdown, but the U.S. didn’t have cases in early February 2020. So I did LA Art Show at the convention center. And I did my immersive cannabis classroom, the Hofman University, a concept after Albert Hofman. The same exhibit was displayed in Miami in December 2019, a month or two before, at a show called Art Miami CONTEXT. The immersive classroom displayed the periodic table of drugs and there were classroom desks and beakers.

There were piles of literature, entrance exams for people to come and fill out if they wanted to be a student. There was Hofman merchandise, lab coats, goggles. It was a very immersive experience for people to step into this wonderful world of drugs, from the guy who invented LSD. If there were a university that would have this periodic table, it would be Hofman university, he is the godfather of psychedelic drugs. It was really received.

What are you working on in 2021?

Well, I am doing a new period table for sneakers. I have a new piece that is kinda similar to Benjamin Bread, but it’s going to be called Holy Water. The pieces I released today were Pizza, Taco, and Sushi. I’m a food lover, who doesn’t love some good tacos? That’s one vice people sometimes forget how addicted we can be to it. When you compare it to some of these more aggressive substances, I mean some of them go well together, you know? Who doesn’t like smoking and eating pizza? It’s a match made in heaven. I have some other pieces in the works for 2021. I have ayahuasca that is coming, as well as wine.

Lindsey Bartlett, Contributor: Forbes

Published: 2021-01-14 17:07:29

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