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Artist’s statement

Sarah Borruso and Damien Hirst 1997

‘With Dead Head’ (1991). Photography by André Morin-Le-Jeune © Damien Hirst and Science Ltd. All rights reserved, DACS 2012

Damien Hirst  What do you mean, an artist’s statement?

Sarah Borusso  Just a statement of purpose or... it’s up to you really, we run them just to give a context to your work... It’s kind of up to you.

DH  OK, I can do one now.

SB  OK. It’s a kind of separate thing from the interview.

DH  No, I can think of a really good one.

SB  Oh, you can?

DH  The only interesting people are the people who say, “Fuck off. This is what I think.”

SB  [Laughter].

DH  That’s kind of good for an artist’s statement though, isn’t it?

SB  Yeah, it is. That’s a very direct statement.

DH  Well, that’s what art is supposed to be, isn’t it? Hold on I’ve got another one: we’re all weeping babies underneath.

SB  Is that true?

DH  Well, it’s an artist statement... I really like the piece that Nauman did: the true artist helps the world by revealing mystic truths. Do you know that piece by Bruce Nauman?

SB  Unfortunately, I don’t. I wish I did.

DH  It’s a neon sign that’s a spiral that goes into nothing in the centre and you have to tilt your head when you read it and it says, “The true artist helps the word by revealing mystic truths.” And you go, “Oh, yeah, great” and then you go, “Oh god” and there’s nothing there.

SB  Sounds nice. I take it then you don’t agree with artist’s statements?

DH  No, I love them... Here I’ll give you another: now I know what I want, to live forever, for a while.

SB  A contradiction in terms, or...

DH  No, I mean they are true, really. I do completely. I sound like I’m being awkward but I’m not, alright, I’ve got a brilliant one: nothing is a problem for me.

SB  Wow. I envy you.

DH  Yeah, but you see you’re taking it one way but it goes both ways, doesn’t it?

SB  It goes both ways?

DH  Yeah, the existence of nothing causes me problems, and I have none. I have no problems, nothing is a problem for me... artist’s statements, come on, quick – sorry.

I’ve got a sculpture called, ‘I Want to Spend the Rest of My Life Everywhere, with Everyone, One to One, Always, Forever, Now’ ... that’s a sculpture but an artistic statement as well.

[Much later]

I suppose art allows you to go off on the wrong track... that’s an artistic statement: art allows you to go off on the wrong track – forever, whenever you want – without going mad! Art allows you to go off on the wrong track without going mad! – That’s an artistic statement.

[Later, towards the end of the interview]

SB  I know you didn’t like the idea of providing a statement of purpose.

DH  No, I gave you enough.

SB  Well you are welcome to do it if you like, and you can fax it in.

DH  No, I gave you enough. How about: kiss my fucking ass!

SB  That’s a great close for anything.

DH  Why don’t you kiss my fucking ass!

SB  Oh boy.

DH  I love you all.

SB  Okay, I’ll type that in.

DH  No. Don’t. Just put: why don’t you kiss my tits!

SB  Oh, boy. OK. You don’t like that idea. Anyway –

DH  No, I gave you artist’s statements... hey, I’m not being funny, you know that, don’t you?

SB  Sorry?

DH  I did my best.

'Artist's Statement' originally published as part of an interview with Damien Hirst, Sarah Borusso, Hotwired magazine (1997). Copyright © Damien Hirst/Sarah Borusso.