Rehab is for Quitters, 1998 - 1999



Rehab is for Quitters
1998 - 1999
914 x 2744 x 2134 mm | 36 x 108 x 84 in
Glass, steel, aluminum, human skeleton, rubber tubing, compressor, ping-pong balls, paper and ink
Image: Photographed by Prudence Cuming Associates © Damien Hirst and Science Ltd. All rights reserved, DACS 2012


Group Exhibition - 2018
Hudson Valley MOCA, New York, United States
Group Exhibition - 2000
White Cube, Hoxton, London, United Kingdom


‘Rehab is for Quitters’ consists of a human skeleton, lying horizontally in a position reminiscent of the crucifixion, bisected by two glass panels. Above the skeleton’s eye sockets, two ping-pong balls affixed with images of retinas, are held aloft by a stream of air. The title derives from a bumper sticker seen by Hirst. The work was first exhibited as part of ‘Out There’, White Cube Hoxton’s inaugural exhibition in 2004.

‘Rehab Is for Quitters’ is part of Hirst’s ‘Mental Escapology’ series. He began the series in 1991, in reference to his statement that the “idea of a perfect artwork would be a perfect sphere in the centre of a room. You would come in and walk around it; it would just be there, floating without strings or wires.”[1] With this sculpture, the heaviness of the symbolism associated with the skeleton, referenced by Hirst in ‘Resurrection’ (1998 - 2003) ­– another skeleton piece made at a similar time – is pitched against the frivolity of the floating ping-pong balls. Describing humour as “a by-product of thinking about creating meaning through the relationships of objects”, Hirst explains: “[The Skeleton] is too loaded as iconography. Doom; death. The vanitas. So to give it those cartoon eyes … It’s got that dumb slapstick in there. I couldn’t resist it … It’s almost a child’s way of looking at death … Remember in the Blur video for ‘Country House’ [which Hirst directed in 1995] there’s a skeleton that comes out of the ground which has got those glasses on with the eyes on springs that fall out, just for a second. I thought that was a great idea of how death was going to creep up behind you. Boo!”[2]

[1] Damien Hirst cited in Damien Hirst, ‘I Want to Spend the Rest of My Life Everywhere, with Everyone, One to One, Always, Forever, Now’ (Booth-Clibborn Editions; Reduced edition, 2005), 75–79

[2] Damien Hirst cited in Damien Hirst and Gordon Burn, ‘On the Way to Work’, (Faber and Faber, 2001), 212, 156