Damien Hirst, The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living, 1991
Summer of 95: picture a dishwater-blonde Sara at nine years old in a black, frilly swimsuit, sitting at the edge of a backyard pool one hot August evening. It was my childhood best friend Jessica's pool, and her cousin Stephanie sat beside us as we kicked our feet in the water, creating black waves in the dark night. Jessica dared us to jump in, it was a deep pool, and the Michigan air was thick with humidity. "I can't go in the water at night, Jaws will get me!" exclaimed Stephanie. Jaws may have debuted twenty years prior, but the image of that shark tearing through Quint's boat, and ready to feast upon its inhabitants was an image burned into our brains for years to come.
"Sometimes that shark, he looks right into ya. Right into your eyes. Y'know the thing about a shark, he's got... lifeless eyes, black eyes, like a doll's eyes." -Quint, Jaws (1975)
Being horror fans, summer means re-watching all our favorite summer horror movies: the Friday the 13th, and Sleepaway Camp films are almost always up first because of course they are, but summer just isn't complete without a viewing or ten of Jaws. As awesome as it is to watch horny teenagers get taken out one-by-one by a vengeful killer, there is just something completely horrific about a gigantic ass shark lurking in the water, ready to chomp innocent swimmers in half. Why? Because come summer, whether you get in the water or not, almost everyone is drawn to the beach. As cool as a hockey-mask wearing killer who can teleport all over the place and seemingly cannot die is, he isn't real. Sharks are. Nine year old me knew damn well that Great White sharks didn't exist in Michigan, and they sure as hell did not exist in that pool, but I wasn't having it. Jaws is an iconic horror movie because it put the audience face-to-face with a horrific beast that is native to our very world. In 1991, Damien Hirst took that horror one step further.
Funded by Charles Saatchi, the piece totaled in cost over 50,000 pounds, and is considered a very iconic work of British art. Not the Great White we see in Jaws, but a still jarring Tiger Shark entitled "The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living" encased in a steel tank, preserved with formaldehyde, starring you in the face. Completely horrific. Which was the point Hirst was trying to make, to bring the shark out of its natural setting, frozen in space, up close to the viewer without any media distortion. A direct experience, forcing ourselves to consider the shark in a different context. Scary shit.
The installment has since been sold, however, these photographs portray a pretty terrifying experience if you ask me. Being from a state completely surrounded by lakes, I am no stranger to the experience of the fear of what may or may not be lurking beneath the waters, however, the ocean is by far a greater mystery. As much as the idea of standing in front of that Tiger Shark seems unnerving as hell, I would love to have had the chance to. I guess I will just have to settle for watching all of the shark movies I can this month instead.
Speaking of! Tonight is this month's #BHorrorMovieNight live-tweet, and we are so completely stoked to be watching Sharknado (2013). I have not had the pleasure of seeing this quality film yet, so I am pretty pumped to see some shark-tornado bullshit this evening! We will be starting the event at 9:30 EST and all you need to do is follow us on Twitter at @FoxyCatCoven and use the hashtag as we will be retweeting our favorite tweets throughout the film. Sharknado is currently available on Netflix, and it's also free with Amazon Prime, so see you creeps later tonight!