Butts, Drugs And Frozen Sharks: Damien Hirst Haunts The Tate Modern
To kick off my World Pride 2012 experience in London this year, I visited the Damien Hirst exhibit at the Tate Modern in London.
And though the British-born artist isn't gay, his artwork is definitely queer.
The exhibit focuses on his fascination with modern art and its conjunction with natural science, pharmaceuticals and the tobacco industry. It includes pieces like stuffed life-sized animals preserved in tinted formaldehyde, a walk-in live butterfly habitat, enormous cabinets filled with prescription drugs and wall-sized shelves holding thousands of cigarette butts.
As a spectator, I took the exhibit as a message that many of us rely on synthetic substances for some degree of relief. However, nature itself—left unchanged—is composed of many blissful aspects that cannot be synthetically reproduced by man.
His artworks also incorporate a dash of glitter and glamour whether in a stuffed shark on display, a Jacuzzi-sized ashtray filled with cigarettes or collages made from shimmering butterfly wings.
The exhibit made a great kick-off to World Pride 2012 because Pride not only celebrates LGBT people, but also open minds and free thinking—even ones that are a little overmedicated or 'unnatural' like Damien Hirst.
Make sure to catch the show if you're in town around the Olympics—it runs until September 9th and there are also free guided tours every day.