Damien Hirst is going to do what countless people have always wanted to do to his art: destroy it.
He hasn’t suddenly developed a late in life taste for pyromania, though. Instead, it’s all part of his upcoming exhibition ‘The Currency’, at his own Newport Street Gallery in Vauxhall. ‘The Currency’ is a collection of 10,000 primary-coloured paintings created by Hirst in 2016, and 10,000 corresponding NFTs of those artworks. When purchasing one of the works, collectors had the option to either keep the physical artwork and destroy the NFT, or keep the NFT and allow the physical artwork to be set alight.
All 10,000 works have sold, and you can see the ratio of NFT-keepers to painting-keepers here. There’s sure to be plenty to burn throughout the run of the exhibition. And the artworks are set to be destroyed at specified times, published in advance, so you can go and watch it all happen in real time.
But if you’re thinking ‘Hold on, aren’t we in the middle of an unprecedented cost of living crisis? Aren’t people being pushed into poverty by rising gas, electricity and food prices? And now one of the world’s most famous artists is burning artworks in his purpose-built mega-gallery? Even if you ignore the environmental impact of creating 10,000 NFTs, aren’t physical versions of works from ‘The Currency’ being sold on the secondary market for between £20,000-£30,000? People can’t afford to eat and he’s just, like, burning money?’
Yes, it’s almost like Damien Hirst is so out of touch with the real world that he’s basically transcended to another plane of existence, populated only by oligarchs and the once-edgy artists they collect.
Still, look at it this way, even if you can’t afford to turn on your heating at home, just go to Newport Street Gallery: it’s free and it should be nice and toasty with all those £20,000 paintings on fire.
‘The Currency’ by Damien Hirst will be at Newport Street Gallery. From Sep 9. Free. More details here.
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