So I decided to enter the Damien Hirst Challenge. I don’t know the judging criteria nor what the other entries are like, so we’ll find out in 2 weeks if I even came close to winning. But the one stated criterion was that your entry was supposed to engage themes of life and death, and I felt inspired by another thematic inversion that came out the day I visited the Hirst exhibtion and the Museum of Islamic Art. Namely, that where Hirst puts death on display to make people think about life, a lot of Islamic art invokes contemplations of death (via the afterlife) by depicting life (in the form of arabesque plant motifs that symbolise Paradise the Garden).
My entry, The Astronomer Under, depicts a dead astronomer whose corpse is locked into its heavenward gaze by cordyceps fungi. It involves visual motifs common to both Hirst (butterfly parts, dots, longitudinal sections of preserved dead things) and Islamic art (plant imagery; curving ‘organic’ composition; nature/night sky association).