A Los Angeles artist known as Plastic Jesus erected an 8-foot-tall Oscar statuette shooting up heroin to call attention to what he says is widespread but hidden hard drug use in Hollywood.
His timing couldn’t have been more grimly perfect: Besides arriving just before the Oscars, the statue coincided with an autopsy report that Philip Seymour Hoffman died of heroin and other drugs.
Plastic Jesus, who does not give his real name because of the illegality of street art, erected the statue Friday on Hollywood and LaBrea, close to the Oscars’ Red Carpet. He removed it after someone he says “claimed to be from the city” threatened to take it away.
The statue is of the golden figure injecting himself, standing atop a placard announcing, “Hollywood’s Best Kept Secret.”
The artist told TheWrap on Saturday that he wants to end the stigma surrounding hard drug use so that addicts — such as Hoffman — will get the help they need. Plastic Jesus said his cousin and her partner both died of heroin overdoses.
“I’m not out there shouting for the abolition of all drugs,” said the British-born artist, who is in his mid-40s and has been in Los Angeles for the last decade. “The piece is really to bring attention about the lack of understanding and support. … In Hollywood people almost proudly boast that they’re a member of Alcoholics Anonymous. That’s a good thing. However, with hard drug use, there’s still so much of a stigma attached. It’s swept under the carpet and people don’t get the support that should be available to them.”
“So many people have been touched by drugs and drug use,” he added.
Besides raising awareness of drug abuse, the statue also gave Plastic Jesus’ publicity a shot in the arm. He said he knew some would see his piece as self-promoting, but said self-promotion was not his intent.
He timed the statue to the Oscars because all of his pieces tend to be pegged to news events, he said.
“I do many dozens of pieces throughout the year, and they’re to illustrate an issue I feel passionate about,” he said.
Here are more photos, from Plastic Jesus’ Instagram account: