jenniferkoliver: (Wolves | Wouldn't Like Me)
Jennifer K. Oliver ([personal profile] jenniferkoliver) wrote2012-08-24 12:01 pm

Tate Modern: Damien Hirst exhibition, summer 2012

Last month I visited the Tate Modern while in London, but totally forgot to blog about it. I've never been the biggest fan of (a lot of) modern art, so I was dubious going in, but open to try it and hopeful that I'd come away with a newfound appreciation. Well, I did. Mostly. I was lucky enough to see the latest Damien Hirst show, which was interesting and beautiful and grotesque and frustrating all at the same time. Not all of the pieces worked for me, but a couple of them worked strongly enough that I came away with a general good feeling about the exhibition. I'm still not sure if modern art is my thing, though I'm much more amenable to giving it a whirl.

Pieces that were hits: the shark, the butterfly room and Black Sun.

Pieces that did not hit: The medicine cabinets lost their charm after the third or fourth. I get that our bodies-will-ultimately-fail-us, and they may have provided a thematic thread through the whole exhibition, but I didn't need three roomfuls. And I admit, as much as I loved the concept of the butterfly room, I could only stick it for about three minutes before I had to duck out (literally). A lot of them were tropical butterflies and they were bloody humungous! One landed on my head as I went in and gave me the wiggins.

He's very focused on birth/health and death/decay. You go from the butterfly room, with its canvas-lined walls embedded with pupae that the butterflies hatch from and carry out their life cycle, to the black sun room which is a gigantic mural made of dead flies in resin. Yum.

Another piece of note—one I'm still not sure whether I liked or not—is A Thousand Years. It's a massive glass box with a smaller white box inside that's filled with maggots (you can't see them). These maggots are continuously hatching into flies, which fly out of the white box and feed on a severed cow's head on the floor. There's also an electric insect-o-cuter in the box which draws many of the flies and obliterates them. Others just die naturally—they litter the floor like a black carpet. I must say, I felt a bit squiggly looking at that one. Plus, you could smell this faint undercurrent of flies and rotting cow's head. But at the same time, conceptually, it was pretty well executed.

The Hand That Feeds, by Nine Inch Nails.
ext_289215: (Kings Jack More Living)

[identity profile] 2012-08-24 12:55 pm (UTC)(link)
Those are interesting. I think I remember reading an article about him a while back. I certainly remember the animals in the tanks. I think I'd probably spend quite a bit of time in the butterfly room. Having them embedded in the walls like that is interesting.

[identity profile] 2012-08-24 02:30 pm (UTC)(link)
Yep, the animals in formaldehyde are some of his iconic pieces. He did the cow cut in half and preserved that you can walk through (here's a pic). There's also a calf version.

I wish I could have stayed in the butterfly room longer. It was fascinating, just... too many spindly legs for my tastes!