Pickle Damien Hirst, stuff Sarah Lucas and put Tracey Emin to bed!

– a detail, inverted, from Damien Hirst’s exhibition invitation to The Dead, from here (the skulls which follow are from the same source).

The above title (and all subsequent quotation) is from here. The Guardian article by Fiachra Gibbons from which it’s drawn actually says, “All that remains is to…” in keeping with the Romanticism of its End of Days theme: the Istanbul Biennial (yes).

The Biennial is alleged to be the “most political since the fall of the Berlin Wall.” “Istanbul’s curators, the Croatian all-female collective What, How & for Whom, are seeking nothing less than a refounding of art on Brechtian principles, as a motor for social change.”

“Politically neutral art is a means of policing the art world,” claims the biennial’s manifesto. It goes on to proclaim communism as the only name for a world order based on justice.

So, Fiachra Gibbons’s final paragraph draws the ironic parallel of Charles Saatchi’s upcoming “X Factor for artists,” a BBC production, which itself coincides with the invasion of St. Petersburg by an exhibition of his British art, and the fake Big Brother, also in Istanbul, in which nine women volunteered to participate, lured by the prospect of becoming stars, and of whom, subsequent to their liberation by police, only one complained. But where is the irony exactly?

Isn’t the Guardian’s consistency in maintaining a neutrality, supported in its superiority on the twin towers of political nihilism and artistic Romanticism, the very object of the Biennial’s critique? Decadence, in other words? The superiority complex is such that it doesn’t even feel implicated in what this article calls, “eastern Europe’s revenge.”

This is strange considering the other parallel made in the first paragraph, between the decadence of the art world and the recent global collapse of the financial sector:

The tumbrils that took Bernie Madoff and Lehman Brothers will soon be back for Saatchi and Serota. And as if on cue, Istanbul was deluged on the biennial’s opening night by an apocalyptic storm, one that killed 32 people in a suburb built on sand during the last speculative building boom.

All of which distracts from Damien Hirst, who at his gallery other criteria, exhibits The Dead, 30 new works of foil prints in metallic rainbow colours. The Dead comes at the end of a month of fashion collections; as noted by Vogue’s online presence, you could be forgiven for thinking that the title refers to exhausted fashion journalists. And this is an additional distraction from Richard Prince’s photograph Spiritual America, recently withdrawn from exhibition as part of the Tate Modern’s Pop Life show.

– Richard Prince, spiritual america, from here; Richard Prince writes about the image here.

We are the dead and this is our spiritual life.