June 3, 2007

"Death is such a heavy subject, it would be good to make something that laughed in the face of it."

Says Damien Hirst, who seems to be laughing the hardest, as he sells a diamond-encrusted skull for $100 million.
The dazzle of the diamonds might outshine any meaning Hirst attaches to it, and that could be a problem. Its value as jewelry alone is preposterous. Hirst, who financed the piece himself, watched for months as the price of international diamonds rose while the Bond Street gem dealer Bentley & Skinner tried to corner the market for the artist’s benefit. Given the ongoing controversy over blood diamonds from Africa, “For the Love of God” now has the potential to be about death in a more literal way.
I found a way to laugh at death through art and commerce, and then, in the middle of the project, I saw I had connected myself to the production of death in the real world.
“That’s when you stop laughing,” Hirst says. “You might have created something that people might die because of. I guess I felt like Oppenheimer or something. What have I done? Because it’s going to need high security all its life.”
Is something wrong with the contents of this man's skull? How do you explain that last sentence?! He has the decency to ask "What have I done?" but what should be the answer to the question -- it begins with "because" -- completely changes the subject to the collector's problem of securing the ultra-expensive object from theft.

11 comments:

Jennifer said...

You might have created something that people might die because of.

Unless he doesn't consider the people mining those diamonds to be people, then he's created something that people have likely already died because of. This is art?

ricpic said...

Another operator "artist" with an angle.

Jonathan said...

... they are ethically sourced diamonds

Jennifer said...

Some would argue there's no such thing as ethically sourced diamonds. Certified conflict free diamonds are only certified as not funding conflict - it doesn't mean they were mined safely or that the miners themselves were treated in a way that's even approaching ethical. It's pretty unlikely that 12 million pounds worth of diamonds were collected with no harm to the workers.

Jennifer said...

By the way, I'm not trying to dictate morality to this guy. He's free to trod on whatever third world peasants he wants. I'm just saying his giddiness at the idea that people might die over his creation is a little naive given that he's probably already achieved that.

Troy said...

Jennifer -- it's the inability or unwillingness to "dictate morality" to this guy that enabkes him to do BS like this. It's called "law" -- we dictate morality to "guys" all the time. There's no harm in calling a spade a spade -- especially in an area like this is there? We're not talking speeding or pot smoking or types of tile on one's home. We're talking about an actual skull parading as art. Perhaps if this guy were robbing Indian burial grounds for his skulls it might make a difference since cultural desecration is more "evil" than personal individual desecration?

Jennifer said...

Well, for the sake of accuracy, we're actually talking about a casting of an actual skull.

Ruth Anne Adams said...

It's kind of like gilding the lily. God's creation can be coated in gold or diamonds or whatever, but it never surpasses God for sheer creativity.

I wonder if the skull's owner was named Morrie? It's a helluva memento mori.

Synova said...

Unless people are going to get on the case of every young lady getting a diamond I hardly see the point of getting all moral at this guy. The diamond trade was not invented by an artist and it's not supported by a single extravagant piece of artwork.

Which is, frankly, incredible.

lee david said...

The new Maltese Falcon?

Synova said...

Heh.

I write science fiction and I swear I've just *got* to have someone either smuggling or searching for this thing from Tau Ceti to Vega.