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Dutch Artist Sculpts Human Skull Out of Cocaine

Conceptual artist Diddo designed the skull to examine the human condition rather than make any declarations about drugs.

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Ecce Animal by Diddo Photo via

By John Lavitt

02/17/14

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The Dutch conceptual artist Diddo has sculpted a life-sized human skull out of none other than street cocaine. In a new project called Ecce Animal, Diddo intended to ignite a viewer’s thoughts about the strange nature of human behavior; without glamorizing drug addiction or preaching against it, the 36-year-old artist wanted to incite a strong reaction from his audience by using the illegal drug as his material.

Diddo explained that he was not trying to make a bold declaration about drug use, but rather he was conducting a deeper examination of the human condition. “I don’t feel obliged to educate people on the potential dangers of drugs. In Ecce Animal, the cocaine is used in combination with a symbol of mortality, and, therefore, quite directly related to danger," he said. "I don't want to over-intellectualize, but it's the fusion of two icons (skull and cocaine) that provokes thought and discussion on the nature of man. Specifically, about his creation of, and participation in, a society which echoes his own tendency to lose control.”

Purchased from a street dealer in mysterious circumstances that have not been illuminated, Diddo has made clear that he never tried the drug or tested it on his own. Instead, he had the substance tested in a laboratory, confirming the drug was 15 to 20 percent pure. The lab findings also revealed “further constituent components identified included phenacetin, caffeine, paracetamol and a relative large percentage of sugars.” Meticulously sculpted out of the illegal powder, the sculpture is an exact replica of a human skull.

Diddo delved deeper into the direction of his art and the cocaine skull in particular when he said, “To me, human behavior is enigmatic and ever-changing. We cannot live together and we cannot live apart. Ecce Animal attempts to crystallize the true ‘human’ energy generated by this collision.”

With new commissions from Kanye West, Lady Gaga, and Sacha Baron Cohen, Diddo believes that he can break new ground in the art world while assuming a public platform. With sculptures like the cocaine skull, he certainly will be in the discussion of cutting edge artists walking the line of expression and extremity.

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