PRINT January 1992


A Thousand Years, 1990, is Damien Hirst’s sensational and ostentatious “machine” constructed to induce and defeat maggoty optimism. An 800-cubic-foot rectangular glass-and-steel vitrine, supplied with a quantity of hatching maggots, nutrient solutions, one skinned cow head, and an ultraviolet electronic fly-killer, comprises the clinical environment for a microdrama of survival that begs comparison with the experience of free-market-driven social life in Britain today. Newly hatched flies freely migrate from their nest inside a wooden cube in one compartment of the vitrine, whereupon they are able to pass through a small circular orifice in the glass partition into an adjacent compartment containing both the putrefying cow head and the fly-killer. As the insects cross the threshold they encounter a dilemma of fateful proportions: those that are somehow resistant to the ultraviolet wavelength’s

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