In 2001, contemporary artist Damien Hirst went to the opening of his new exhibition in London. Standing in the rubble of the afterparty, he felt so inspired that he decided to turn it into an impromptu art installation.
Unfortunately, the next morning, the cleaner didn’t have Hirst’s artistic eye - and chucked it right into the trash. Oops.
Hirst thought it was funny. The gallery owner probably didn’t.
In Germany, we have a saying. We use it when someone’s holding on to something out of nostalgia, mostly in a funny, mocking way: “Is this art or can this go?” It’s a joke, but it’s also meant to help you move on. Not from the memory - from the item.
To this day, I struggle with contemporary art. What’s the point? I think that’s the right question. But because I keep looking for signs of effort and quality, I’m missing it.
It’s not about what you can spot. It’s about what you can feel.
When I watch it, I can feel it. And I can see all the people feeling it too. You may not and that’s fine. In fact, that’s the point.
We all feel differently and that’s why we need different art. Why we need so much of it. Because as different as we are, we all want to feel connected.
As long as we can sense that connection, as long as we remember it, we’re never truly alone. We might be lonely or misunderstood or lack intimacy, but we’re still human. One of many who are one. Art is just the reminder.
Sometimes, we can find it in a tribute. Sometimes, we can find it in the trash. The composition may have been swept away, but the connection stays.
It was never about the installation. It was about us.
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