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Katherine Araniello and Simon Raven do 'The Golden Gherkin' / 29 July 2015

photo of artists Katherine Araniello and Simon Raven dressed in black costumes with a stall of 'golden pickles'  pictured in front of the Damien Hirst 'Charity' sculpture near the Gherkin

Katherine Araniello and Simon Raven pictured in front of 'Charity' giving gherkins away by The Gherkin

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Unveiled in the same week that the UK government scrapped the Independent Living Fund (ILF), a debate about the artistic merit of Damien Hirst’s 'Charity' (2003 - 2004) ignited on Dao’s FB group. 

A 22-foot painted bronze likeness of a Spastics Society (Scope) charity collection box from the 1960's-1970’s depicting a sad disabled child, the press lauded it as a statement about disability rights and exclusion. Why? Because in Hirst’s depiction, the giant charity box has been prized open with a crow bar and it's contents stolen. It's lazy art for lazy people lacking imagination or any understanding of disability representation.

As Mark Harrison commented on FB: “Art business & disability business - match made in heaven... both making money from crips.”

In response artists Katherine Araniello and Simon Raven decided to set up a fake artisan pickled gherkin stall, 'The Golden Gherkin', beside the 'Charity' sculpture installed next to 'The Gherkin' building in central London.

“Come and get your juicy, cheeky gherkin, all in the name of charity… spastic disabled gherkins made on Damien Hirst’s disabled farm…. Free. Dig down deep. £78… Hard to stomach.. Free gherkins.” 

You can see edited highlights below. The joke is clearly lost on most city workers who walk past in a hurry. To my mind the dark humour here sums up the cynicism of the city and the corporate art it supports.

Although apparently one man did donate a pound, so maybe all is not lost.

Keywords: charity,corporate funding,damien hirst,disability activists,disability art,disability representation


Colin Hambrook

30 July 2015

You had an impact in that you've created a very funny document of an attempt to make a statement. But yes you cannot communicate with people who don't want to communicate. Disability has become a saleable commodity and that in and of itself is the only the thing the City will listen to.

Katherine Araniello

30 July 2015

The reality is that our pressence/performance made no impact whatsoever, we were an inconvenience and prevented a nice photo of Charity by being in the way! This represents the tone of the sculpture being there in the first place ie. there is no communication about disability and the real present day issues affecting disabled people today What Charity does is personify Damien Hirst and his work. Depositing Charity in the city gives a sense of security and wealth reminding the city workers that they are successful businessmen, and Charity is a Damien Hirst sculpture something to admire, aspire to. Prosperity lives and is thriving.