Dutch Candy

With Dutch Candy, Adam Fierman and photographer Peter Andrew Lusztyk created a beautiful coffee table book featuring photos of 42 different ecstasy pills. The American expat Fierman, residing in the Netherlands, became fascinated by the logos on the pills, as well as the open discussion about ecstasy use in the Netherlands. Spuit 11 spoke with him.

The subtitle of the book is ‘The Black-Market Branding of Ecstasy’.

The logos used for XTC pills are an excellent reflection of what is currently trendy. XTC-producers have a keen sense for this. I spoke with a producer who mentioned watching a Netflix series and sensing it could become very popular. A month later, the logo of that series appeared on an ecstasy pill. So, it’s actually a compliment to a brand when it’s used for a pill.

Still, Heineken expressed discomfort about XTC pills being shaped like their bottles.

They officially have to say that, but I doubt they truly mind. During an exhibition of our photos at the Vrijpaleis, a man in a suit approached me and handed me his card from a major beer brand. He said he wanted to connect with an XTC producer interested in using their brand image on pills.

Did you facilitate that?

No, that’s not my role. However, I did have a man who bought all the prints I made of the black skull pill. When I asked him why he wanted them so badly, he responded that he had sold 50.000 copies of that pill.

What inspired you to start this project?

In America, it was even taboo to discuss XTC use among friends, whereas here in the Netherlands, I noticed much more openness. I think that’s a positive thing. If I look at the people that buy my photos, they are all very normal, respected individuals. Yet, they have no issue hanging such photos in their living rooms or placing my book on their coffee tables. At the exhibition, there was even a couple with a baby, buying prints of the Hello Kitty pill and the Mickey Mouse pill for their child’s room.

Many people would find that idea appalling.

That’s actually progress. They said, ‘It’s a part of our lives and nothing to be ashamed of. We want our children to learn to handle it in a very normal way.’

And does this project contribute to that?

It’s really just beginning. I’m currently putting my own money into the books I sell. But I hope we’ll find a major publisher willing to release it in a larger edition. I also want to photograph more pills. So, if there are people with collections, I hope they get in touch via dutchcandy.art


By: Dennis Lahey