If you've ever been solicited by a drug dealer, then you know what the drill is: he or she offers some cocaine or marijuana, and you politely - or in some cases rudely - decline. But surely no one has ever proffered you the cremated remains of Nirvana's Kurt Cobain on the off-chance you might want to smoke it. But it looks like that's what happened to artist Natascha Stellmach.
It's the final, grotesque component in an installation piece Stellmach contributed to I Just Wanted You to Love Me, a group exhibition at Berlin's Galerie Wagner + Partner. And although all the artists' pieces ruminate on death, Stellmach's work goes rather further than SPAM: the Musical or Peter Dreher's gouache paintings of human skulls.
Natascha Stellmach's Set Me Free is a "death cycle" in five parts, examining themes of suicide and desecration. The first part is a sound piece called Black in Here, pressed on a custom record and played on vintage equipment. Next is a "text-based work", presumably art-speak for "short story", with Cobain, Adolf Hitler, Diane Arbus and the Brothers Grimm meeting in a "hallucinogenic twilight zone", according to the gallery statement. Later there's photography – including a shot of the words "Set Me Free" written out in ash - and finally the pièce de resistance: an antique cigarette case holding a joint made up of hash and the remains of the former Nirvana lead singer.
When the exhibition closes on October 11, the Australian-born artist intends to take the spliff to a secret location in Berlin and, well, smoke it. This will, Stellmach explained airily to Art World Magazine, release Cobain "into the ether from the media circus". And, presumably, give her a headache.
Earlier this year, News of the World made the dubious claim that Cobain's ashes had been stolen from his widow, Courtney Love. The report was never confirmed.
But if Stellmach's Nirvana doobie is indeed legit, she is keeping mum on how it fell into her hands. "That's confidential and kind of magic," she told Art World. "[The ashes] came to me."
Well, that or she has a very eccentric drug dealer.