For a split second after looking at the artist Andrei Koschmieder’s work at the Art Basel booth for Brooklyn gallery Real Fine Arts, I felt less like I was at an art fair in Miami and more like I was at a marijuana dispensary in Boulder.
But that was just an illusion. What looked like weed was actually just a process-intensive work from Koschmieder. Tyler Dobson from Real Fine Arts explained: “It starts with scanning actual marijuana, and then he takes that scan and prints it on a normal desktop ink-jet printer on this paper that is kind of fiber-y and soft,” Dobson explained. The artist then rips up that very paper and balls it into “faux-replicas,” little sculptural nuggets that look authentic enough that I swore I smelled something. Sadly that was also just my mind—and, perhaps, jet lag—playing tricks on me.
“Someone else just said that, so I’m not sure what that’s about. Maybe someone has some in their pocket,” Dobson said. Before I left the booth, I had to ask Dobson the dumb question that people have probably been asking him all day: can you smoke it?
“No one has tried to smoke it. We tell them beforehand that it’s not smokeable, it’s made out of paper and glue so it wouldn’t be good to smoke,” Dobson said, before adding that “people have asked if they could smoke it, even after I’ve told them that it’s not real.” Maybe he should just let them? “Yeah, we could do a demo. See what happens. I mean, I imagine it would be pretty disgusting,” he said. “And bad for you.”