Notes from listening to https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/global-culture/beginners-guide-contemporaryart1/v/hirst-s-shark-interpreting-contemporary-art [accessed 17/11/19]

 

The shark was caught and killed for this purpose

The tank is a frame

The commentators discussed that modern art is more open to interpretation than before and referenced Duchamp, “a work of art is completed by the viewer”. They also referenced the influence of the 1975 Spielberg film, Jaws, on the way humans feel about sharks.

The title itself is a challenge and is poetic, but it also clashes with the physical piece and one of the commentators states that ‘this is where the art is’ and that this piece gives the viewer ‘a complicated experience’.

This is not the original shark; the first one dissolved.  The commentators discussed whether this was intentional or an inadvertent side-effect. One commented that Hirst is struggling to keep the shark intact then posed the somewhat clumsy rhetorical question ‘who isn’t struggling to keep themselves intact?’

On the subject of whether Hirst intended for the piece to be permanent, one commentator pointed out that the choice to use a real shark versus a fake one, and using formaldehyde versus Amber suggests not.

They stated that one definition of art is that it outlives us; is trans-generational. That humans have tried to stop time throughout history (I read this as meaning the effects of time).

At the end of the video the commentators stated that modern art poses philosophical questions whilst giving no answers and is not always concerned only with aesthetics, if at all.

 

Having more contextul information around this piece does not change my view of it; I cannot get past Hirst’s killing of animals for his art. The video also references the bisected sheep he preserved. Yet more works are referenced in the 02/04/12 Guardian article by Adrian Searle. I recently read an article on this subject that estimates his ‘body-count’ is approaching 1 million.

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