Special project for Irreversible Magazine Vol 2 Issue 1 Limited Editions
Dimensions: 12 x 17 inches
While studying psychology in my home city of Lima, Peru, it was suggested that I try psychotropic drugs to better understand their affects on the psyche. It is not commonly known that Freud prescribed cocaine for practically every complaint of his patients. Coincidentally, cocaine is an alkaloid that is derived from the leaves of the coca plant, a crop native to Peru. The Goddess of health and joy, Mama Coca, or Kukamama in Andean mythology, was a beautiful and promiscuous woman who was cut in half by her lovers. Her body then grew into the first coca plant, the leaves of which men were only allowed to chew after having given a woman an orgasm.
When chewed, coca acts as a mild stimulant and suppresses hunger, thirst, pain, fatigue and most importantly the effects of altitude sickness. Evidence suggests that coca contains vital nutrients which are not found in other plants of the region. According to a report prepared in 1975 by Messrs. Duke, Oulik, and Plowman of Harvard University, “ingesting 100 grams of coca leaf surpasses the daily needs of calcium, iron, phosphorous, vitamin A, vitamin B2, and vitamin E, as recommended by the World Health Organization for a single person.” Despite the criminalization of coca, 100 metric tons of dried Peruvian coca leaves are processed (to remove the cocaine) a year in the United States to be used as flavoring in, of course, Coca-Cola.
I am fascinated that the coca leaf has an ancient spiritual significance which contradicts its modern socio-economic implications.