Famous British artist Damien Hirst, said to be the world's wealthiest artist, has opened a small store in Soho London that was once a Chinese restaurant.
He calls it his "Ephemeral Sculpture Store". It is the size of a small supermarket with all you would expect, rows of shelves packed with goodies, trolleys, freezers; and even a fully stocked off-license section sporting the artist's favourite wines and spirits.
Except, Hirst has arranged these commodities and goods on display according to his own sublime tastes. And that's what makes it unique. People can purchase items as they would in any other store but must allow themselves to be photographed doing so. All activities in the shop are videoed by Hirst's helpers from the Royal College of Art who will also be running the store for him.
Last night, amid much media attention the Ephemeral Sculpture Store was formally opened by J.K. Rowling and Bono of U2, with Peter Mandelson, Tony Blair and representatives of the Tate Modern and Citibank in attendance. Tony Blair gave a short eulogy while Joanne cut the ribbon held by Bono. Said Blair:
"This is yet another great example of British, artistic vision leading the world. No longer the preserve of the dilettante... Damien Hirst has managed to bring art out of the High Street and into the public arena. William Turner I suspect is looking down with pride. Now, by just going about our normal activities people, ordinary people, you and I, can interact with great art. I am proud that this example of artistic genius is one hundred percent British. The Ephemeral Sculpture Store is a true and lasting monument to Post-Modernism."
The store was purchased by the Arts Council of Gt. Britain and the BBC will soon be releasing a one-hour video on the transformation of the humble, red brick, two storey restaurant into a living, priceless sculpture.
A collector's book is expected to be released by Bloomsbury and Hirst's own video of edited highlights from the CCV footage and stills of people shopping will be part of a world touring show surrounding the project. MOMA of New York, it is rumoured, will be first to mount the exhibition and George Bush is touted as a possible candidate to open it.
Arts editor of the Evening Standard, Julian Hiram-Seymore said; "It is simply genius. As soon as you walk into the shop you know it is like no other shop you have been in. There is a mystical quality about this space ... a sort of timeless dimension. Damien's soul is alive in every shelf, his way of thinking about colours and forms so reminiscent of his paintings, everywhere in evidence. I am quite speechless. Close to tears, in fact. Damien never fails to remind us all of the ubiquity of death and decay."
The artist himself had few words to say about his masterpiece when interviewed by our reporter from "Con-Artist" monthly. Said he:
"Well, I was inspired by Andy Warhol's famous 'factory' that we were discussing over a pint one night in a pub not far from here, actually. And it just grew from there. Andy was onto something that he did not quite understand. I think I have gone much deeper."
"But some would say that the spiritual content...."
"Whattafuck has "spiritual" got to do with it!? Art is salesmanship. Heard of Coca Cola? It's about selling an idea, you idiot!"
One angry customer who, in fact, used to work in the place when it was a restaurant said:
"Well, I buy box of washing powder from the pink shelf... but Mister Hirst... he refuse to sign it for me. Now I must go wash my clothes with it. It no good for anything else no more. Mr. Hirst only sign things for his friends. I show him I am very, very angry ... but man come and take my picture. Then police officer ask me to leave.
It is rumoured Mr. Hirst is in line for a knighthood in next year's Honours List. You will not find any commodities from The Ephemeral Sculpture Store for sale on EBAY, incidentally. On advice from his agent Mr. Hirst has signed only two dozen such commodities, all of them from the blue freezer section.
They have been kept frozen and are expected to be auctioned at Sotheby's next Spring as a limited collection. More 'sculptures' however may be released over the coming months, and even years.