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Damien Hirst


18 May – 1 July 1995


18 May – 1 July 1995

In Damien Hirst’s Still (1995), a clinical vitrine made from glass, mirror and steel displayed a series of surgical instruments. The glinting scalpels, forceps, retractors and clamps, arranged on a series of shelves, with surgical, non-hierarchical precision, reflect the aesthetic of the laboratory. The display case lends the work an assertive sculptural presence. Hirst used the case to isolate and frame the medical tools, focusing the viewer’s attention on some uncomfortable truths by highlighting the vulnerability of our bodies, and the temporal nature of our existence. In this respect, the work can be interpreted as referencing ‘vanitas’, a theme associated with the genre of still life; Hirst made this link explicit by putting a mirrored backplate in the vitrine that reflected the physical presence of the viewer.

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