Purple Drank is a slang term for a drink made up of cough syrup containing codeine and promethazine, mixed with soda. Codeine is an opiate, whereas promethazine is an antihistamine. The concoction causes a slight euphoria and a feeling of happiness thanks to the codeine. The promethazine, on the other hand, as an antihistamine, lessens the undesired effects of opiates. The mixture became popular in the hip-hop community in the U.S. during the 1990s and came to Europe a few years ago.


On 22 June 2017 RITA URSO artopiagallery is inaugurating Purple Drank, a summer show with the artists Davide Allieri, Cosimo Casoni, Dead Meat, Jean-Baptiste Maitre and Goldieschmied & Chiari.

The opening will feature a performance of The Voices of Solo curated by Davide Allieri.


European popular culture has always been fascinated by incursions and alternative worlds, both from East and West, North and South: over time their influence has contributed to changing the perception of - and the approach to - the other into something deeply linked to habits and lifestyles.

The deep social and political roots of black culture in America led, in the 1970s, to the underground subculture represented under various guises by the hip-hop phenomenon. In the 1980s, this subculture reached Europe where it would soon firmly establish itself as well.

More and more the aesthetic and social characteristics of black culture have been carried over into our everyday life, allowing the residents of all nations to develop in turn an identity of their own, founded on multiculturalism and the mix of infinite possibilities.

Practices and symbols that in the past were mainly identified with the back communities of American inner cities, have for a while now been dissociated from old clichés and stereotypes, contributing to the creation of a new popular imagination that is decidedly contemporary.

This new mix of identities continues to evolve year by year, day by day, thanks in large part to the new channels of communication and distribution: what in the past was the role the music videos shown on MTV, today is by and large the prerogative of social media, which have radically contributed to the strengthening (or weakening?) of the power of the image and its role in creating a myth.

The slow sedimentation of new features of European popular culture is to be traced back to the multitude of cultural imports and exports by now established among our trans-generational reference points: from James Brown to Kanye West, Michael Jordan to LeBron James, TLC to Beyoncé, Ali to Mayweather, Spike Lee to Antoine Fuqua.

The focus of Purple Drank is to be found in the languages and the aesthetics of black culture in relation to their interaction with contemporary artistic practices. Each artist participating in the show reflects on the topic, highlighting their own way of drawing on, manipulating, deforming and crossing over, starting from hip hop and moving on to athletes, cinema and fashion.


On the occasion of the show’s end, on 22 September, its catalogue will be presented with contributions from Maria Acciaro, Claudia Contu, Alice Lamperti and Rossella Farinotti.