L’Art et le Néant

Editorial note: If you have not yet read our mission statement above, please do so in order that you can put our blogs in context. 

 8 September 2012


I sometimes feel that I have nothing to say and I want to communicate this.

Damien Hirst, British artist.

You’ve said it, Dame. How right you are. It’s good to have this straight from the horse’s mouth.

However, you needn’t have bothered. Your work does it all for you.

To take just one example. Your opus “A Thousand Years”.  This exhibit of rotting meat surrounded by buzzing bluebottles – as displayed by London’s Tate Modern Museum – says it all.

Some people might be at a loss to fathom out why you should want to share with others the vacuity within. You might have been well-advised to keep this to yourself and save yourself the trouble.

However, you are not alone.

US composer John Cage, who died in 1992, said: “”I have nothing to say and I am saying it”.

Cage’s most famous composition is entitled 4’33”. Composed in 1952 for any instrument, it requires the performer (eg pianist) not to pay their instrument at all during the four minutes and thirty-three seconds that the work lasts.

So, Dame, you’re in good company.

On the other hand, what about the advice of Mary Ann Evans (aka George Eliot)? In chapter four of “Impressions of Theophrastus Such”, published in 1879, she wrote:“Blessed is the man who, having nothing to say, abstains from giving us wordy evidence of the fact.”

Born in Bristol in 1965, Damien Hirst is the most prominent member of the group of Young British Artists who dominated the art scene in Britain during the 1990s. He is reportedly Britain’s richest living artist, his wealth being valued at £215 million in the 2010 Sunday Times Rich List. Hirst studied fine art at London University’s Goldsmiths’ College and won the Turner art prize in 1995.

Art apart, the artist has never shied away from controversy.

On 10 September 2002, on the eve of the first anniversary of the terrorist obliteration of the World Trade Center in New York on 11 September 2001, in an interview with BBC News Online, Hirst said:

The thing about 9/11 is that it’s kind of like an artwork in its own right. It was wicked, but it was devised in this way for this kind of impact. It was devised visually… You’ve got to hand it to them on some level because they’ve achieved something which nobody would have ever have thought possible, especially to a country as big as America. So on one level they kind of need congratulating, which a lot of people shy away from, which is a very dangerous thing.”


You might perhaps care to view some of our earlier posts.  For instance:

1. Why? or How? That is the question(3 Jan 2012)

2. Partitocracy v. Democracy (20 July 2012)

3. The shoddiest possible goods at the highest possible prices(2 Feb 2012)

4. Capitalism in practice  (4 July 2012)

5. Ladder  (21 June 2012)

 6. A tale of two cities (1)  (6 June 2012)

 7. A tale of two cities (2)  (7 June 2012)

 8. Where’s the beef? Ontology and tinned meat (31 Jan 2012)

Every so often we shall change this sample of previously published posts.


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