Question / 15 pts Damien Hirst, The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living, Glass, painted steel, silicone, monofilament, shark, and formaldehyde solution, 7’1½” × 17’9⅜” × 5’10⅞”. Hirst’s monumental sculpture is a non-traditional sculpture whose materials include a real shark suspended in a tank of formaldehyde, which helps to preserve the animal. He questions if the living can know what it is like to be dead with his artwork; thus, the sculpture’s purpose is to encourage audience members to confront the relationship between death, immortality, mortality, and fear. He encourages this by taking a natural, real-life ecreature that most humans fear and placing it directly in front of people to create a feeling fear and curiousity at the same time. Other dichotomies his artwork references are the relationships between natural versus artificial (death, or mortality, of the shark is a natural process, but it is preserved in formaldehyde, which almost gives it immortality) and movement versus staticity (the shark is in the position to swim, but remains suspended and still in the substance and tank). Eventually, the shark disintegrates in the solution and Hirst has to replace the sculpture with a new shark and formaldehyde, which becomes a part of the story for this artwork; even artists battle to make their art immortal from the inevitable destruction of it through time.
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