Easyart ID: 427438
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An original fine art litho poster published by Tate. This work was a room-sized installation representing a pharmacy, conceived as a site-specific installation and initially shown at the Cohen Gallery, New York, in 1992. Four glass apothecary bottles filled with coloured liquids stand in a row on a counter and represent the four elements: earth, air, fire, water. Four bowls containing honeycomb sit on four footstools arranged around an electric insect-o-cutor, which hangs from the ceiling. Medicine and drugs are recurring themes in Hirstís work as means of altering perception and providing a short-lived cure, ineffectual in the face of death. Here the honeycomb operates as the central metaphor: it potentially attracts flies, only to lure them on to a quick and brutal death. In a similar manner the pharmaceutical drugs with their inevitable side effects could be seen to represent a range of impermanent means for escape from sickness and pain. By reproducing the area of a pharmacy the public is normally denied access to in a highly aestheticised context, Hirst has created a kind of temple to modern medicine, ironically centred around an agent of death (the insect-o-cutor). Offering endless rows of palliative hopes for a diseased cultural body, Hirstís Pharmacy could be seen as a representation of the multiple range of philosophies, theories and belief systems available as possible means of structuring and redeeming a life. Like medicine, however, these attempts to think a way around death are eternally doomed to failure.