Pharmacy of Crippling Hope

by Jessica Poor

The Pharmacy of Crippling Hope. What can be said about a book, which isn’t really a book at all, or is it?

Instructional, bound, and fully ironic, artist Jessica Poor, or Dr. J. Poor MD as she is listed as the prescriber of this work, offers us a humorous look at self-preservation that without perspective, can be a hard pill to swallow, pun intended. Jessica not so gently pulls back the thin veil of considerate medical advice in an age of growing pharmaceutical reliance and returns you to the simple days of youthful forbearance. If you aren’t careful, you might start following her instructions!

The work, a tamper-proof pill bottle adorned with text and illustration might easily be looked past if this artistic gem were in your medicine cabinet but sitting in a book art gallery your gaze is immediately drawn to this seeming absurdity but wait, there’s more! Upon reading the brief instructions, “Take one or two tablets by mouth. Take as many pills as you want, you are still going to die“, the newly uncovered nihilistic absurdity of a well-lived, safe life, begins to wash over you. Like a wreck on the highway distracting you whilst you are moving at neck-breaking speed, you can’t help but peer into the bottle to bear witness to its contents.

Individual pill capsules, each with simple instruction printed on rolled paper found inside reading as follows, “Run with scissors”, “Don’t look both ways”, “Eat raw meat”, “Join a Gang”, “Have unprotected sex”, so on and so forth. Being a parent of young children and an obsessively protective one at that, I find this not only humorous but quite enlightening. In my use of ad nauseam instruction toward my children, might I lose focus on the very purpose of life, which is to live?

Might I be desensitizing my children from both their surroundings, as well my own well-intentioned parental voice?

Back to the work being considered a book. Again, it is instructional, bound together in the form of a pill bottle manifest, and does have a sense of textual sequence. Does that not make a book? I guess only time will tell regarding my questions, or whom you may ask, but with almost all great art forms and artists, The Pharmacy of Crippling Hope offers us a new perspective on things. The fact that Jessica does so with such great satire, well that just makes it a truly heavenly addition to the Jaffe Center, ironically enough. Click here for slideshow.

- Eric Bush