Canned (mixed media - used cigarette paper and ink on paper)


Okay, this is going to require some explaining. Many years ago I was living by myself in Vienna. Due to circumstances that need not concern us here, I was poverty stricken at the time and extremely so. I was also a smoker of cigarettes —a vile, health-destroying and expensive habit that I have since managed to rid myself of—; a key part of this little anecdote. I smoked roll-your-own tobacco, both because it had more taste and it was cheaper. Plus it was lots of fun to roll them. As my money situation approached absolute zero I began saving my spent cigarette butts in an empty coffee can with a red plastic top. When I finally couldn’t buy any more tobacco I opened the can, unrolled the butts and rolled new cigarettes out of the ‘leavings’. Sad but true. I then put these recycled butts in the can for round two. This went on for a couple of days until I finally smoked the last cigarettes, recycled I don’t know how many times. The tobacco was jet black and dripping tar and resins. . .
In the can I had all those unrolled cigarette-butt papers; for some reason I kept putting them back in there. Maybe I thought that tobacco would spontaneously regenerate, I don’t know. It didn’t. In any case I sat there in my flat without food, without tobacco and, much worse, without beer. Austrian beer, which is my favourite. Pure torture. To amuse my sorry self I decided to compose a picture out of my used cigarette-butt papers. I had no glue, so I used a mixture of flour and water, which, if I remember correctly, I ate afterwards.
What this is a picture of I will leave to the viewer to decide, but I would venture to say that ‘Canned’ would be an appropriate title.

4 have said their bit, now it's your turn:

INDIGENE said...

Good grief! I remember being that poor! Gross idea...but cool illustration!

www.indigeneartforms.blogspot.com

Bella Sinclair said...

Your story made me want to cry. Thank goodness you made it through and things are better now. I must say, this is a really cool concept and execution. And a great way to memorialize those hard times. Hope you have this one hanging for display!

Flying Colors said...

No one should be that poor, the world is so abundant.
Sure glad to see you "canned" such deathly addiction and the poverty scene too!
Just keep on thinking that way...
The piece looks like paving stones, pave away to a prosperous life. :)

Son of Incogneato said...

Thanks for the sympathy. I didn’t mean to make it sound so pitiful - it was a fine time in my life. Well, actually it wasn’t. I was pretty miserable, but, that was a longgggggggg time ago. And all’s well that ends well, right?
Two things that intrigue me about the bad old days of youth: 1) How little I fazed was by it all, and 2) How I was much more creative (i.e. active) and opened-minded when I was poor, slept on the floor in a moth-eaten sleeping bag (when I bothered to sleep) and used a broken washing machine for my clothes closet.
What can this mean? Two things again: 1) Don’t get old and 2) Stay hungry . . .