2015 - 2019
Hypnotic Highway is a photowork about the hypnotics crisis. I travel regularly between London where I’m based and Lisbon, where mum lived on her own. This time, when mum called for help, I had no idea I would be coming home to a landscape of pills and hallucinations …the Hypnotic Highway…
The photos were taken between the Lisbon apartment and the hospital, witnessing the impact of Zolpidol, a prescription sleeping aid, on mum’s physical and psychological condition. Zolpidol is another name for Ambien, a prescription drug whose devastating effects are well documented in countless case courts and press accounts. Whilst I was looking after mum, I immersed myself in research, only to find out that her G.P had made her dependent on the same prescription drug that killed Heath Ledger at 28 and wiped out five years of Eminem’s life when he was in his 30s. The same drug that has transformed so many brilliant individuals into Ambien Zombies as they’re characterised in the press, people with no memories of their actions under the influence.
I read the report "Living With A Prescription Drug Addict Mother Compelled Me To Fight Big Pharma and Win" by lawyer Susan Chana Lask, on her Ambien Class Action I against Sanofi Aventis, the pharmaceutical company behind the hypnotics epidemic, and this helped me identify the politics surrounding the company whose logos printed in plastic bags I found lying around the house, with pills inside. I also was inspired by photographer Nan Goldin’s essay and collection of photographs detailing her addiction to Oxycontin and her campaign against Sackler’s family Purdue Pharma, the pharmaceutical company behind the opioids epidemics.
Mum’s physical body didn’t survive the hypnotics crisis and the journal I had started before her passing as a record of our time together, is part of the work, shared as a personal photo-essay, and meant as another call for action. As Susan Chana Lask wrote so eloquently "The doctors who killed my mother still practiced after her death. They never asked how she was. They are drug dealers."