The Hirst Noel

Well, New York City is looking more festive than ever, “ever” starting from the first Christmas I spent here back in 1989. There are outdoor markets on Union Square and Bryant Park, and a holiday fair at Grant Central Station. A departure from the city’s traditional Christmas windows, to say the least, was the above installation at the Lever House on Park Avenue in midtown Manhattan. I recall a Christmas carousel in the window; but this year, there was something else on display that is sure to make your head (and possibly your stomach) turn.

Damien Hirst’s “School: The Archaeology of Lost Desires, Comprehending Infinity, and the Search for Knowledge” (12 November 2007 to 9 February 2008) is billed as a “complex and thought provoking presentation that makes numerous references to art, science, art history, authority, knowledge, culture, religion, and beliefs,” as the curator of the $10 “School,” which took about $1 to assemble, describes it in the handout you may pick up as you walk in from the street.

Lever House, designated an official landmark in 1992, is one of those buildings you walk past without looking up; it takes an installation like Hirst to make you stop and wonder. We had just come from SYMS to pick up a few ties (where else would you buy ties in New York!) when we spotted the glass tanks filled with animal carcasses. Discomfortingly well-ordered and awfully beautiful, Hirst’s “School” is even more disturbing than the rate at which our money is going . . .

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