Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Damien Hirst: For the Love of God (2007) - Review

For the Love of God at Tate Modern has transformed experiencing an icon of contemporary art into a quasi-religious act.
The concept is simple: a platinum skull encrusted with 8601 diamonds with human teeth for a touch of grounded realism. It is an impressive feat of craftmanship, and costing £14m to make, it is the most valuable piece of contemporary art (with an estimated value of £50m). Damien Hirst's momento mori is a truly remarkable art work on a number of levels.
But what struck me most about this exhibition was that the Tate have made the visit into an act of pilgrimage. The process of queuing and encountering the skull was reminiscent of visiting the Holy Sepulchre. The exhibit itself is on display in a Kaaba-like black box in the centre of the Turbine Hall, which the viewer enters through a short corridor that is pitch black. Inside, the pilgrim enters the darkened "Holy-of-Holies" and is instantly dazzled by the skull which is displayed in the centre of the space, picked out by bright spot-lights. The whole process magnifies the undoubted beauty and importance of the piece, rendering the viewer helpless before the reliquary. Thus prepared, only then can the true believer approach the skull, to examine and appreciate the genius of Hirst (or at least that of his artisan team).
I would encourage all to go on this pilgrimage to visit this particular "Place of the Skull".
Well Done, Tate Modern.

Damien Hirst: For the Love of God (2007) is on display in the Turbine Hall of Tate Modern until 24th June 2012. Admission is free.
Further Reading
Damien Hirst 'Death has not required us to keep a day free' Tate Etc Issue 24, Spring 2012

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