“Notes on Damien Hirst’s Pharmaceutical Works”

Critical Studies Fellow John Corso Esquivel will offer an informal critic’s talk about his new book project, Pharmaesthetics: Pill Culture in Contemporary Art. John will discuss his preliminary research on Damien Hirst’s pharmaceutical works. Following Foucault’s concept of the “medical gaze,” John will suggest that Hirst’s medicine cabinets take as their subject not living human bodies, but the post-mortem corpse. In the European memento mori genre, death was pictured to urge believers to follow a Christian moral life. Hirst, John will argue, does not invoke death with those religious purposes. Instead, Hirst sets up an aesthetics rooted in anarchy and the insufficiency of pharmacology to understand the human subject.

Sponsored by the Critical Studies and Humanities Program