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ThamesRiver Water High in Cocaine Please Drink Responsiblyy

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London and Helsinki

Thames River Water — High in Cocaine — Please Drink Responsibly is a presentation of objects and data by the visual artist, based in London, Lorenzo Belenguer to highlight the demonisation of South America as the leading producer of cocaine. As Belenguer adds:

At the same time, the North is the primary consumer. The most impoverished farmers and traffickers in Latino America end being criminalised in sharp contrast with the wealthy middle-class consumers who are not.

The installation will be included in a group show Neo Norte 3 in Helsinki at the Myymälä2 Gallery in the Design District (Uudenmaankatu 23 F, Helsinki 00120) between the 30th of September and the 23rd of October 2021. Neo Norte 3.0 (New North) is an exhibition of contemporary art and a series of public events based on an ongoing research, inspired by Joaquín Torres García’s “Escuela del Sur” (School of the South), that placed the map upside down. Tere Chad, the curator, invited both Latin American practitioners and artists interested in Latin American culture to challenge geopolitics. Neo Norte 3.0 will be presented at the Myymälä2 Gallery in the Design District (Uudenmaankatu 23 F, Helsinki 00120) between the 30 th of September and the 23 rd of October 2021. The project’s main objective is to promote cultural exchange between the local community and artists from abroad. Neo Norte 3.0:

‘… aims to challenge curations dominated by Eurocentrism and present an identity that proposes a new direction for the region’s art’

comments Vanessa Leal Soto, journalist from El Mercurio, Chile (16/08/18), about Neo Norte’s first edition. The project proposes Latin America as a cultural reference that can lead with innovative artistic trends. In times of global instability, where the hegemonies of power are blurred, there is an opportunity for the global south. The exhibition attempts to change the paradigm by giving visibility to a continent which often does not receive the international recognition it deserves in the cultural sector. For more information, please visit the website:

Youtube link to video performance (1 minute) Thames River Water — High in Cocaine — Please Drink Responsibly by Lorenzo Belenguer.

In 2008, an estimated 865 metric tons (mt) of pure cocaine were produced. Colombia appears to have been responsible for about half of global production, with Peru contributing over one third and Bolivia making up the balance. Estimates provided by UNODC (United Nations Office on Drug and Crime) 2008 report [1, pp. 1,2]. Around two thirds (41% + 26% + 3%= 70%), is consumed in the mature cocaine markets of North America (41%) and Europe (29%). Estimates provided by UNODC (United Nations Office on Drug and Crime) 2008 report [1, pp 7.]. “In 2019, scientists at the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction revealed London to have one of Europe’s highest concentration of cocaine in sewage, with an average daily concentration of the substance in waste water at 618mg of cocaine was flushed away per 1,000 people each day.”[2] Partially ending in the Thames river. Levels of Cocaine are so high in the Thames River that eels are becoming hyperactive [3]. The consumption of coca leaves by the native population in the Andes area has been happening for millennia. In shamanic rituals, the Incas regarded coca as the sacred plant because of its qualities of giving endurance. It was part of every aspect of life: the art, mythology, culture and economy of the Inca Empire. It has been chewed or used to make tea daily for many hundreds of years, yet never has a plant been so misrepresented and its use so controlled by prejudice and ignorance, including up to the present day. The adulteration of transforming the coca leaves into Cocaine has created the damage in contemporary societies, and the toxic process of isolating the chemical pollutes the local rivers and environments. Mama Kuka, mother coca in Quechua as the goddess, gives health and joy. In Incan mythology, Mama Kuka was originally a promiscuous woman who was cut in half by her many lovers. From her body grew the first coca plant the leaves of which are chewed to boost energy and are used by the Andean priests in ritual offerings known as k’intus.

Lorenzo Belenguer is a nonbinary visual artist and arts writer based in London and Valencia strongly influenced by Minimalism and Arte Povera. Belenguer’s practice as an artist is constantly focused into the reclaiming: be it objects like discarded rusted metal into the gallery spaces and copies of traditional European paintings as symbols of imperial power. Also into the reclaiming the place of humans into the natural ecosystem as ancient cultures perfectly knew. Previously, Belenguer ran a community art gallery In London for seven years and a project for London 2012 called Testimonies. His work has been exhibited or performed at spaces such as the Serpentine Galleries, Tate Modern and the Venice Biennale. He supports the power of the Arts to communicate ways to move into a more compassionate and loving society as we are witnessing in the current pandemic. He exhibited and performed at The Serpentine Galleries, TATE Modern and at the 57th Venice Biennale. The UCL Art Historian Susie Hodge included him as a representative of the Neo-Geometric Conceptualism (Neo-Geo) Movement alongside Jeff Koons and Ashley Bickerton in her latest book. Belenguer’s works has been featured in the national media in Spain, Germany, Italy and the UK such as The Independent, The Guardian, The Telegraph, Artforum and The Art Newspaper.


[2] (interactive map)


Contact Information: 

Lorenzo Belenguer - participating artist - Lorenzo

Tere Chad - curator and participating artist -