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Showing posts from February, 2012

The Damien Hirst Spot Challenge: The dottiest scavenger hunt ever

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I popped up out of the subway in Athens to face a phalanx of police riot shields. In LA, Stephen Spielberg's mother proudly toured me through her shrine to her son's talent (it's on the way to the restroom of her diner). Then there was Occupy London with its dystopian yet fiercely activist vibe ... and the $10/night Kung Fu hostel buried in one of Hong Kong's buzzing cities-within-a-building with its Changi prison aesthetic and crazed woman who refused to budge from my bunk bed …
My latest escapade was a complete departure from anything I've attempted before: the Damien Hirst Spot Challenge - a kind of global art scavenger hunt.

The brief: dash across datelines visiting 11 galleries showing the artist's Spot Painting retrospective, get your official "been there, spotted that" card stamped, and as a reward, receive a spot print personally signed and dedicated to you by Hirst himself.

It was one of the stressful, yet exhilarating adventures I've ever…

Damien Hirst Spot Challenge: Athens to Hong Kong - FINISHED!

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Read my complete Spot Challenge chronicle

The Gagosian Gallery Hong Kong was my last stop on the Spot Challenge. How awful to come all this way and fluff it ... but it nearly happened.

Unable to secure a China Visa "on the fly" to visit my cousins in Beijing for a couple of days, I'd moved my onward flight forward. This meant I'd have to sit for a few hours at Beijing airport, then depart for Hong Kong same day, as the immigration rules dictate. (It was cheaper to do this than re-book the flight).

An Etihad airlines officer summoned me to the counter. It appears, madam, you do not have a valid onward ticket out of Beijing. WTF? I'd spent an eternity at the Beehive Hostel in Rome calling the eternally inconvenient United Airlines office in the USA (can you believe it? A global airline that requires you to call long distance to their terminally busy home office!), trying to move that flight forward. The problem? The supposedly updated email confirmation didn't …

Damien Hirst Spot Challenge: Minimalism To Go - 8 countries and 1 small Traffic Cone Bag

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I popped up in Athens to face a phalanx of police riot shields. In LA, Stephen Spielberg's mother showed me her wall of fame to her son (it's on the way to the restroom). Then there was Occupy London ... and the $10/night Kung Fu hostel in Hong Kong with its Changi prison aesthetics and woman who refused to budge from my bunk bed … 

I just got back from doing the Damien Hirst Spot Challenge - a kind of global scavenger hunt where you had to dash around visiting all 11 galleries showing his Spot Paintings (NY-LA-London-Paris-Geneva-Rome-Athens-HK), and as a reward, receive a personally dedicated print. It was one of the maddest, funnest things I've ever done. You can follow my journey by scanning  the posts before this one and clicking "older post" until you've had a gutful. So this post should really be titled, The Joy of Carry On.
I set myself up on a kind Challenge-within-a Spot Challenge:  can I do the 8-country scavenger hunt in a northern hemispherical win…

Damien Hirst Spot Challenge: Rome to Athens (10 down, 1 to go!)

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Read my complete Spot Challenge chronicle
Today I headed for Athens, my penultimate stop in the Spot Challenge. A 9am Easyjet flight means I had my butt on the 6.10am airport bus at Roma Termini. This was a bargain flight: just 60 Euro or $US75.77.


On the way to the airport I spotted ... at least three Damien Hirst Spot billboards! Am I the only one who saw them? Unfortunately, my compact Canon S100 wasn't fast enough to capture them for posterity as we whizzed by; my less compact Sony DSX-HX9V would have grabbed it in a flash.

This was my first ever visit to Greece. The Gagosian Athens gallery was right around the corner from the subway interchange at Syntagma Square, the scene of ongoing skirmishes between students and police. I popped out of the subway to face a phalanx of riot shields. A few people - and a lot of teens wagging school - were milling around in the square. I got the feeling some event had passed, or was about to happen. I asked three youths, aged about 17, what wa…