The year is 2029. Damien Hirst has hit a sort of creative block. He has exhibited sharks in formaldehyde, bulls in formaldehyde, zebras in formaldehyde, a motherfucking unicorn in formaldehyde. What more do you want from me? Damien asks. What the fuck more can you ask for?! I’ve given you everything you never knew you wanted. I’ve supplied the global art market with more animals in steel casings and formaldehyde preservative than anyone in the history of art. I’ve hired underlings to paint more colorful circles on white canvases than Da Vinci, Rembrandt and Warhol all put together. I have better than anyone exploited the fact that taking something really expensive and making it into a glitzy memento mori will make that thing even more expensive. Entire economies are built around speculating whether my next formaldehyde animal will fetch astronomical or merely enormous prices at Christie’s!
Next to Damien’s suicide note are instructions for one final artwork to be carried out by his assistants. All of human history has led up to the moment when the auctioneer declares the work sold and the world’s seventeenth richest man—who in 2029 happens to be a Mexican cartel leader slash national politician who is trying to impress his arts-savvy third trophy wife—comes to this terrible realization: Oh my god, I’m actually going to have to keep a naked old dude in a steel box filled with greenish fluid in my living room, aren’t I?
(Zebra in formaldehyde picture via museumuesum.)Sep 9, 2012