While growing up in my home province of Ontario, British Columbia (B.C.) seemed a world away, a place where people moved in order to escape the harsh Ontario winters and experience a more casual lifestyle. At the centre of this casual lifestyle was Vancouver’s reputation as Canada’s own “Amsterdam”. When I moved to Vancouver in 2010 and had the chance to observe the open soft drug culture up close, I became intrigued with the most striking centrepiece of this culture – the bong.

With the aid of Craigslist, I began assembling and curating - what I considered - a type of outsider art. These bongs were created by diverse individuals for their love of cannabis culture, out of necessity or boredom. By combining various materials usually found within their homes and in some cases, with comical primitivism, these unintentional sculptors have created unique and very personal objects worthy of interest beyond their intended purpose.

I’m inspired to the area that exists between art and life where ordinary objects, isolated from their original surroundings, are able to stand on their own without further attributions accorded to them. In this sense, each water pipe has been photographed in an objective manner in order to underline their anthropological status. 

Beyond the clinical setting, they constitute an aesthetic study in shape, colour, texture and composition. These bongs act like a blank canvas, allowing their sculptors to express their personality, while at the same time allowing for a certain amount of interpretation by the viewer - a vital element in any memorable work of art.
 

Acne, 2013

Motherfuck, 2013

Double-decker, 2013

Apple, 2013

Traffic Marker, 2013

Sherlock, 2013

Pop Bottle and Pill Container, 2013

Honey Bear and Snowman, 2013

Leaning Tower, 2013

Frankenstein, 2013

Skull, 2014

Volcano, 2013

O'Sheas Casino, 2014

Rastafarian, 2013

Snake Charmer, 2013

Leather Fringe, 2014

4:20, 2014

Real Skateboards, 2014

Honeycomb, 2014

Gas Mask, 2014

Sprite, 2014

Tylenol, 2014

Matryoshka, 2014

All images © 2010-2021 Joel Stevenett