Damien Hirst is often known for his menagerie of carefully curated animals. You may have seen his cow, somewhat deconstructed, or his 14-foot tiger shark preserved in a tank of formaldehyde. In his new exhibit, “Schizophrenogenesis,” Hirst turns to a different kind of preservative: the kind that humans use to maintain a delicate mental balance or for the good of our health — or so we have been told.
“Schizophrenogenesis” is a tongue-in-cheek homage (or opposite thereof) to the sleek contemporary design of pharmacology. These IKEA-worthy pills are shown in neon prints or as sculptures, much larger than life. “Pills are a brilliant little form, better than any minimalist art,” Hirst says. “They’re all designed to make you buy them… they come out of flowers, plants, things from the ground, and they make you feel good, you know, to just have a pill, to feel beauty.”
Though out of the ground indeed did they come, the modern-day herbs and remedies Hirst depicts are anything but natural. Viewers are asked to contemplate their artificial curves and edges and the distant bold-faced type of a prescription (“Take SIX capsules FOUR TIMES DAILY,” one says urgently). One bubblegum pink capsule declares, “PFIZER.”