"It’s primarily about the meaning of objects."
‘Boxes’ was installed for the first phase of ‘Freeze’ (1988), the three-part exhibition Hirst organised and curated whilst in his second year at Goldsmiths. The work constitutes 81 household gloss-painted cardboard structures. ‘Boxes’ is intended to be re-fabricated whenever the piece is exhibited so that the work always looks new. The piece can be seen in part as Hirst’s departure from arranging “already organised elements with built in personalities” in the collages (1983 - 87). This departure was to be completed in its entirety with the spot paintings.
In 1984, much of the materials for Hirst collages came from objects he’d discovered in a neighbour’s abandoned house in North London. Mr. Barnes, its recently evicted occupant was a hoarder who’d amassed, “sixty years of existence in one room,” in what Hirst describes as the, “absolute ultimate [art work] that no one saw.” ‘Boxes’ was made when the artist was beginning to tire of using “nostalgia that had been accumulated through age,” the concept that had largely driven his interest in collage. He explains: “In the collages, I became Mr. Barnes, taking his stuff then collecting my own stuff and adding to it, then, at the end, sweeping it into a pile in the middle of the floor and making first the ‘Boxes’ works on the wall, then the spot paintings.”
‘Boxes’ is shown for the first time since ‘Freeze’ at Tate Modern’s ‘Damien Hirst’ retrospective in London, 2012.