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Trails of the swallower, Living Walls, Albany, NY, September 2011

Internal carrier / heroic / distance / interior / exterior / public / private / global / personal / effects / drugs / lost battle / hope / search for understanding / control / lies / deception / cover up / family / origins

Office space with a large glass window. The door is shut. Black plastic floor. Small black table. Large black bucket. Large paintbrush. Black plastic bag. I am dressed in black – black shirt, black skirt. I open the bag and pull out a pile of photocopies of x-rays of drug runner’s bellies/insides. I put on a pair of black latex gloves. I open the bucket, dip the paintbrush and begin putting wheat paste on the window. I start sticking on the photocopies. I continue to put up the photocopies until there is a 2’x 5’ viewer area. I take off the gloves, put the lid on the bucket and step behind the table. I take off my skirt and shirt to reveal a large quantity of drugs taped to my abdomen area. I have on a white bra and white underwear. I use a blade and cut the drugs off. They are wrapped in white table and saran wrap. There are 7 large bundles. One by one I cut them open and make piles of the different drugs – small heroin balloons, small bags of cocaine, and pills. I begin emptying each balloon out until there is a pile. I empty each baggie out and each pill. I throw the empty balloons, baggies and pills onto the floor as I go. Once I have completed this action I put my shirt and skirt back on and wheat paste a photograph of my sister Katy, her son Cayden and Cayden’s father Taylor in the viewing whole on the window. Taylor is currently in jail for selling heroin. Katy’s life has been directed and affected by drugs for the past few years. We cannot release the grip it has on her.

Photos by Vela Phelan

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