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‘He hid his own fears and wishes and only took them out in private under the eye of the moon..’
Fear of madness, fear of death, even fear of living in some cases, we all live with fears and artists are no exception. Some even exploit their fears: (quite lucratively in Damien’s Hirst’s case). His 1990 installation ‘In a Thousand Years’, the life cycle of the common house fly; from the maggots hatching, eating, breeding to being zapped and dispatched by an insect-o-cutor.
Reducing the dangerous and magnificent shark to a pickled carcass, preserved in formaldehyde, I think speaks volumes about our fears, the fragility of ourselves and the unimportance of trivia in the greater picture of life. The whole idea of being ‘hatched and dispatched’ is like coming in at the end of the film. It is the ‘jam’, the ‘meat’ the ‘it’ in the middle: it is the LIFE that we are concerned with: what happens NOW. The title of the shark was ‘The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living’ (1992) says it all.
Hirst still fears death like most of us. His 2007 piece entitled ‘For the Love of God’, consisted of a cast of an 18th century skull encrusted with jewels which sold for £50m ($100m). Death must be laughing all the way to the bank!