Damien Hirst Spot Challenge: LA to London (6 down, 5 to go!)
|5 down, 11 to go in the Spot Challenge! Thanks to the extraordinarily cool security guards at the Britannia St Gagosian Gallery for taking this attempt at a tripod inversion (hmmm ... I should have fixated on a spot. But which one?)|
From the chic, sunny sidewalk of Rodeo Drive to the icy, sleet-whipped streets of London: many have said, why on earth did you backtrack, from New York to LA to London? Why not keep flying in one direction: New York, LA, Hong Kong (as many Spot Challengers have done)? Simple: since the Beverly Hills show closed in 3 days, and the London show in the coming week, getting those two out of the way first would save me a mad scramble through Europe. The Spot Challenge is thus threefold: do it on a budget, do it in the dead of a particularly severe EU winter, and do it before each of the galleries closed their respective shows.
|The Davies St Gallery showcased the wee little spots|
|The staff at Gagosian London managed to stay chipper despite the tsunami of "spot kickers" like me.|
You can just imagine Hirst and helpers sitting around stoned or otherwise churning out these rudimentary permutations, knowing they were literally doodling banknotes and giving a legion of art critics something to either hate or fawn over. Like or loathe, the man knows something we don't about how to make money.
|Spot hat meets its maker!|
|My host Jose emerged from the kitchen with a perfect|
No boat to China ... On the erroneous advice of an Expedia saleswoman who told me I didn't need a visa for China, I booked a 1-way flight from Athens to Beijing for a couple of days, in order to visit my cousins Leslie and Malcolm. I soon discovered that not only do most mortals need a visa, you have to be a UK resident to get one in London - you can't really do it "on the fly." So much for spontaneous travel plans. One look at the room full of applicants, all facing the bank of windows in the cold, fluroescent light of visa offices the world over, and I knew it was hopeless. I thought I'd make a last ditch effort in Rome, more about this later.
|The Tate Modern|
Validating any highbrow analysis of Hirst's spots, in my opinion, was a Claes Oldenburg crowdpleaser - a giant plug complete with sexually-charged appendages and orifices, according to the rapturous caption.Who doesn't love Claes Oldenburg - it brings out the kid in all of us. Just like Hirst. Here's the Ellsworth Kelly, which for die-hard minimalists (like me) really does capture the mood of the "Mediterranean" without any messy scenery.
|The most expensive lunch I ever met|
Serves me right.
Not a stone's throw across the river was the tent city of Occupy London, camped outside St Paul's Cathedral.
Everyone was still in bed. Signs saying "My tent for your bonus" and "My tent for a flat" and "People not Money" were plastered everywhere. As in other cities, there was a soup kitchen meeting house, meditation tent and library.
As I snapped photos and interviewed a stalwart member of the group I became acutely aware of the irony of my trip: spewing zillions of carbon molecules per frequent flyer mile, chasing after Hirst's homages to Twister mats in fancy galleries while people were looking for their next rent payment. I was looking for mine too, my day job having disappeared for the second time in 2 years, but I decided to put that aside for the moment and eat art instead.
The BBC crew were lurking in the background - apparently an eviction order was imminent. We agreed it would be very "unchurchy" for St Paul's to throw the patrons off their turf - they'd managed to last this long because of benevolence from behind the large oak doors.
|Dots, butterflies, pills: everything Hirst touches turns to gold.|
Next stop: Gagosian Gallery Paris
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