Pharmacy

4 December 1992 – 28 January 1993
Solo Exhibition. Cohen Gallery, New York, United States.

Hirst has described the installation as “the best show I’d done in my life at that point.”[1] Wall-to-wall cabinets, fully stocked with empty pill packaging, were installed in the gallery room. A receptionist’s desk held apothecary bottles representing the traditional symbols of the pharmacy – earth, fire, air and water. In the centre of the room, an Insect-O-Cutor hung, surrounded by bowls of sugar water positioned on stools. Apertures were made in the gallery windows opening onto Madison Avenue in order to allow insects to enter the room.

The gallery’s elevator opened straight into the installation space, with visitors entering via the back of the pharmacist’s reception desk. Hirst relates that many visitors returned to the elevator, misunderstanding that they were in the exhibition itself. As such, ‘Pharmacy’ succeeded in exploring one of Hirst’s central concerns, the relationship between art and life. He explains: “You can put art into a gallery in the way that it has always been put into galleries, and make people go, ‘I’m in the wrong place.’ It’s fantastic.”[2]



[1] Damien Hirst cited in Damien Hirst and Gordon Burn, ‘On the Way to Work’ (Faber and Faber, 2001), 78

[2] ibid.