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London Gallery Drops Ecstasy Exhibition

A major showcase is cancelled after it's found to contain thousands of real tabs of ecstasy.

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By Victoria Kim

05/17/13

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A London art gallery has decided to drop ecstasy—"Ecstasy of Art" that is—upon realizing that some of the exhibit's artwork contained thousands of real tablets of MDMA. The weeklong showcase was set to open with a private viewing today at Art Republic Gallery, but was canceled at the last minute after the gallery consulted with lawyers and decided to avoid the potential legal ramifications of having illegal drugs on site. "We were under the understanding that they were fake," says the gallery's director, Lawrence Alkin, "[The artist] said this week that they're not fake. We spoke to our solicitors and we can't have anything illegal in our gallery." The exhibition involved two artworks created with over 12,000 multi-colored ecstasy tablets: "Love & Death", a six-foot high skull and crossbones, and "Taste the Rainbow", priced at $150,000 and $114,000. The artist, Chemical X, is perhaps best known for designing the Ministry of Sound logo over 20 years ago, and has worked with rapper Snoop Lion and popular brands including Vans, PlayStation, MTV, and Disney. His spokesman, Marc Woodhouse, says he understands the gallery's decision, but defends the use of real ecstasy, explaining that the purpose of the work was to challenge people's perception of the drug. Says Woodhouse: "These need to be viewed as works of art as they stop being drugs from the point at which [they] are permanently sealed into the pieces." The artist is now seeking a new venue to house the exhibition in London, Bristol or Amsterdam.

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