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[Nettime-ro] For your attention
bory on Wed, 11 Jun 2003 09:59:59 +0200 (CEST)

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[Nettime-ro] For your attention

Bory spotted this on the Guardian Unlimited site and thought you should see it.

Note from Bory:

Cate ceva despre Damien Hirst, acum intr-o formula noua shi imbunatatzita.

To see this story with its related links on the Guardian Unlimited site, go to http://www.guardian.co.uk

New shock potential as sober Hirst turns to God
Fiachra Gibbons
Tuesday June 10 2003
The Guardian

Just as the enfant terrible of Britart seemed to be settling down, having kicked drink and drugs, Damien Hirst last night unveiled his most outrageously sacrilegious creations. 

In a series of sculptures inspired by Leonardo da Vinci's Last Supper, which will be seen in London this autumn, Hirst will depict Jesus and the apostles as 13 pingpong balls bobbing on spurting fountains of red wine. A washing bowl to bathe Christ's feet will sit beneath their Formica table.  

Hirst had wanted the balls to bob on blood but opted for wine, with all its symbolic echoes of the mass, in which Catholics believe wine is turned into the blood of Christ.  

If that were not strong enough meat for many Christians, it will sit alongside a cow with six legs called In His Infinite Wisdom.  

The fourth major piece in his next show at the White Cube gallery in London in September will be The Death of the Saints and the Ascension of Jesus, a sequence of "metaphorical" cabinets showing how Christ and the disciples met their ends. A pickled bull's head will sit in front of each cabinet.  

The explosion of new work, after years of relative inactivity by Hirst's standards, comes as the artist conceded that his wild lifestyle had spun "out of control" and affected his art.  

"I was a lunatic. You suddenly realise you don't look like James Dean anymore and you are starting to look like Jeffrey Bernard. There are things I have done which I now think, 'What the hell was I thinking?'" he said yesterday.  

"I remember once I wanted to cover a pig in vibrators like a hedgehog. It was going to be called Pork-u-pine. Thank God, I didn't do it. But some things like that do get made. In a way, the mistakes are the most interesting things."  

Hirst, 38 this week, stopped drinking six months ago and claims he has discovered a new refinement.  

Outraged Christians may now dispute that, but Hirst, a lapsed Catholic whose work has always dealt with death and the yearning for immortality, said: "I think people forget how much bloodshed there is in the Bible. John is the only disciple who died of natural causes and he was boiled in oil and survived it."  

The "gruesome images" in the Bible he saw at school in Leeds lit the touchpaper of his imagination, he said. "All that heavy imagery is difficult for kids. I took all a bit literally I think."  

The new sober Hirst - who admitted that he had done a lot of work when drunk - said watching his two children draw made him reflect on his own artistic beginnings. "All kids draw, but I kept drawing and drawing."  

The sketches for his new work were produced for the first proper retrospective of his work, which opened the Ljubljana Biennial of Art in Catholic Slovenia yesterday.  

But the decision to stage the show outside Britain, and take the new sculptures to White Cube, was not a calculated snub of his early patron Charles Saatchi, he claimed. Saatchi is staging an unofficial Hirst "retrospective" in his new gallery, and yesterday Hirst admitted he had problems with that.  

He stayed away from the opening and said he did not regard the trademark spotted Mini car which Saatchi is displaying in its foyer as an artwork. "I haven't fallen out with him. We had differing views. Obviously there's a lot of my work in it, so I can't diss it - you can't diss your own work."  

The Ljubljana show, organised by the British Council, reveals Hirst as a more contemplative talent than the "shock merchant" label would suggest. "It's the first time I have looked back," he said. "I never really thought the drawings were art, they were just to work things out. My girlfriend found 200 of them that I thought I had thrown away."  

The artist said three things were important in life: "Science, religion and art, and they seem to be connected. You need a bit of each of them. Independently they don't really work, but if you juggle about with them I find that you can tell these stories."  

He said two of his most notorious early works, the pickled sheep Away from the Flock and the cow and calf, Mother and Child Divided, had heavy religious overtones.  

That theme will continue in a second exhibition he hopes to stage at the Prada Foundation in Milan. Its centrepiece is three crucifixions of pickled cows in a Calvary of barbed wire, which have strong parallels to the paintings of Francis Bacon, one of Hirst's early heroes.  

Like Bacon, however, his relationship with drink and drugs is complex. One of the sketches for the crucifixions is on notepaper taken from the Metropolitan Hotel in London, a scene of Hirst's carousing during what he calls his "glory days".  

"Not drinking is like a new drug," Hirst said. "I go from one extreme to the other. You go from being an alcoholic to being a workaholic. I used to get a kick out of surviving against all the odds. I can drink, I can take drugs and I can produce art. But the art starts looking stupid.  

"It is like being a plate wobbler, you can only wobble so many plates. When you calm down you realise you can wobble a lot more.  

"I won't give up drinking forever, but you get to a point where you can't control it, you have to do something drastic. I don't want to spoil it for myself.  

"I haven't gone to AA. I had a drink recently and it felt like the steering had gone on my car, it was horrible."    

Copyright Guardian Newspapers Limited
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