The Devil Exists for Men to Do Evil

The Devil Exists for Men to Do Evil.
I. If you don't really know about Damien Hirst, first check out the preview video from Sotheby's.
II. The following article assumes both God and the Devil to be character archetypes, at a minimum...

Each lot in the Damien Hirst auction “Beautiful Inside My Head Forever” works toward a multi-fold symmetry about one focal point: Death. Overtly, Hirst exposes death in the Sotheby’s auction house on New Bond Street by sticking dead butterflies on paintings and encapsulating carcasses in formaldehyde, but the algebra of his art is expressed by a repetitious use of the ubiquitous skull symbol. Insinuations from collections of medical supplies and dot-decompositions of molecular compounds both point in a similar direction and neither the painting of Hirst embracing a severed head nor the exposed innards of a marbled angel should be ignored. Except that Hirst doesn’t just expose death. He trims it in gold and diamonds.

Within the show, biblical references abound and Hirst gives a two-finger salute to ancient stories of God. Written psalms, character allusions, and sacred names adorn the walls and populate cages, becoming Hirsts’ prisoners. Insect carcasses form ornate church windows and natural beauty is defiled by painted cow hearts and butterfly wings, while his own defilement is preserved in a showcase of cigarette butts. Creating new beasts (winged pigs and severed unicorn heads), Hirst kills them and preserves their death. “Thou shalt not have any other gods before me,” says God, but fake diamonds line the walls and looking-glass panels encapsulate board room tables. “Do not worship false idols,” says God, but by re-instantiating the golden calf Hirst has brought back that which has been forbidden and given individuals a way to practice idolatry openly. The highest-valued lot in the auction, “The Golden Calf”, is the idol to which we will presumably pay the most homage. Hirst has created a pathway to ultimate sin by providing a focal point for his human followers to worship. And all the while he dances in glee.

In the same way that a curse becomes real by people reacting towards the intangible, the next iteration of the devil seems to have been manifested. Celebrating death and enticing his followers to eschew the commandments of God, Hirst has painted himself a cartoon version of the devil. And rather than actualizing his own new works, Hirst has employed a factory of artisans to assume the ultimate responsibility for our moral and spiritual destruction. For it is not the devil himself who does evil, but the men who are influenced by his serpentine whispers.

In the time of a one language internet, we exist in the shadow of Babylon. Melting Artic ice mountains leave us in the impending doom of a world-wide flood. Extremes are renormalizing at a rate that is increasingly exponential and I wonder just how many steps away from the real thing is this current incarnation of the devil? After all, it has been 2000 years. The world almost exploded last Wednesday (or, at least we thought that it would) and whether we want to or not, Damien Hirst begs us to ask “Is the world about to end”? Or, is he retelling the same stories in a different way, all over again?

“Beautiful Inside My Head Forever” is audacious for many reasons. At Sotheby’s request each of the 223 new works were created in the past two years especially for the auction. Following in the footsteps of avant-garde musicians Radiohead, Hirst has chosen to skip the artist-gallery relationship by allowing Sotheby’s to offer new work for the first time in its’ more than two and half centuries of existence. The largest exhibition and show for both Hirst and Sotheby’s, Hirst expects to make more money at one time than any other artist has ever made, ever. And he’ll do it one soul at a time….

Related links:
TimeOut London

1 comment:

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