The empty glassine packets can be found in Manhattan, Brooklyn and beyond, scattered on streets and sidewalks with only obscure slogans or graphic images to suggest their former use. At one time they contained heroin and the markings stamped on the packets were meant to differentiate strains of varying purity or provenance.
To some they are crime evidence. Addicts may see them mainly as a vehicle to fulfill a dangerous urge. For a group of artists who have been collecting them they are cultural artifacts that are equally unsettling and compelling.
On Wednesday a weeklong show called “Heroin Stamp Project” organized by seven members of the Social Art Collective is scheduled to open at the White Box Gallery on Broome Street on the Lower East Side. The show, which will include 150 packets picked off city streets, as well as 12 blown-up prints made from them, is meant to examine the intersection of advertising and addiction and provoke questions about how society addresses dependence and disease.