Group Exhibition. Tate Britain, London, United Kingdom.

3 March 2004 – 31 May 2004

Photographed by Tate Photography, 2004, courtesy of Tate Images. Angus Fairhurst © Estate of Angus Fairhurst courtesy Sadie Coles HQ, London © Sarah Lucas, courtesy Sadie Coles HQ, London © Damien Hirst/Science. All rights reserved, DACS 2012

The exhibition’s title originates from the name of an LP released in 1968 by the West Coast rock band Iron Butterfly. In his stoned state, the band’s keyboardist Doug Ingle’s attempts to articulate ‘In the Garden of Eden’ came out as ‘In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida’.

The exhibition marked almost 20 years of collaborations between the three artists and friends. Lucas and Fairhurst both exhibited works in ‘Freeze’ (1988), the exhibition organised and curated by Hirst. All three were also included in the group show ‘‘‘Brilliant!” New Art from London’ at the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (1995). In the early 90s, Hirst and Fairhurst shared a studio and collaborated on a number of projects including the film ‘A Couple of Cannibals Eating a Clown’ (1993), in which the artists dressed as professional clowns and recorded themselves relaying stories and jokes in a Mayfair club.[1] On the occasion of ‘In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida’, Hirst wrote of Fairhurst’s work: “Angus never gives us simple formal attitudes. It’s really his unique reactionary sculptural thought, a never-ending game using spirit for art-tex in ridiculous ‘help unicorns run straight’ tests.”[2]

Hirst displayed fifteen new works in the show, which were interspersed with pieces by Lucas and Fairhurst. The gallery walls were hung with Hirst’s ‘Butterfly Wallpaper’ (2003), Lucas’s enlarged pizza delivery leaflets, ‘Pizza Wallpaper (2004), and Fairhurst’s ‘Underdone/Overdone Wallpaper’ (2004), a multi-layered woodland setting. Works shown included Fairhurst’s bronze gorilla, ‘The Birth of Consistency’ (2004), and Lucas’s monumental crucifixion scene, ‘Christ You Know It Ain’t Easy’ (2003), in which the figure of Christ is nailed to a huge wall painting of the cross of St George. ‘The Birth of Consistency’ (2004) was exhibited in a room hung with Hirst’s wallpaper, also containing a series of his ‘Kaleidoscope’ paintings and the formaldehyde piece ‘The Pursuit of Oblivion’ (2004) – a remake of Francis Bacon’s ‘Painting’ (1946) in which Bacon’s crucified figure is represented by two sides of beef submerged in a vast tank containing live fish, a cow’s head and an umbrella amongst other symbolic objects. Also shown were new ‘Natural History’ pieces on religious themes, such as ‘In His Infinite Wisdom’ (2003), and two vitrine works, ‘Adam and Eve Exposed’ (2004) and ‘Adam and Eve Towards the End’ (2004). In these works Adam and Eve are used to symbolise every man and woman, represented in varying stages of degradation.

A catalogue published to accompany the exhibition included an essay by each of the artists, including Hirst’s previously published ‘Why Cunts Sell Shit to Fools’ (Idler, 2003), plus texts by Gregor Muir and Clarrie Wallis (Tate Publishing, 2004).

[1] Written and directed by Damien Hirst and Angus Fairhurst / Green Street Club Project/ Leigh Bowery (1993)

[2] Damien Hirst, ‘In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida’ (Tate Publishing, 2004), 78