Something you don’t see so much of in New Zealand but is very present here in Europe is Assistant Art. This is the art that is too time consuming or, in most of the cases we have seen, too repetitive for a single artist to contemplate or, let's face it, bother with.
So when Damien Hirst had the idea for fly encrusted paintings, the discussion probably went something like:
Damien: Well, fuck it Charlie, I want to have the flies at least an inch thick on this mother.
Studio Manager: We’re talking thousands of flies D, maybe even hundreds of thousands. They’ll have to be bred like and … embalmed even.
Damien: Just do it Charlie, get the assistants out into the killing fields, and give them glue and stuff to stick them down.
Studio Manager: (muttering to himself - D has long gone) Ok, that’s like 300,000 flies at about 10 seconds a fly to catch and kill, 20 seconds to prepare and say 30 seconds to glue to the work, right that’s 50,000 hours at 40 hours a week. (Calls the Deputy Studio Manager). That you, Jason? Yeah, like I need 125 assistants full time for a week. What? Oh, killing flies and stuff like that.
And that (maybe) is how we got to see Damien Hirst’s Untitled black monochrome.
Image: Untitled black monochrome (detail)