Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Image nation

The first time we saw a line of cigarette butts on a shelf (apart the back room of a hotel in Blackball c.1969) was at Te Papa in their first international contemporary art exhibition (and the last) Pictura Britannica in 1998. From memory it was a work by Damien Hirst called After Stubbs (or if not it was in the same zone). OK, a terrible joke but still a pretty good work with the butts looking like mini marquettes given their gallery context. So there was a ‘lookalike’ moment when we saw the cigarette butt image illustrating an article on smoking in a recent copy of the Listener. This time it was art’s turn to be subverted as the image on closer examination turned out to be taken from a Damien Hirst exhibition. It has been plopped into a stock image library we assume and from there lifted uncredited to the magazine at the service of an editorial metaphor.
Images: Top, Damien Hirst The Abyss. Bottom Damien Hirst, After Stubbs