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High Five, Hirst 

Wednesday, Jan 6 2010
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It is the law of easy money that people inside a bubble never know where they are — there's just an oily sheen to everything, which they mistake as the glisten of money waiting to be harvested. Hence, the 2008 art auction by Damien Hirst, which blew apart all expectations. It happened on the same day Lehman Brothers collapsed, an omen the art crowd took as a blessing, since they were lodged in a bubble and witnessing a bunch of pickled animals (for that is what Hirst does, his art is to pickle animals) net the artist $200 million. One month later, pop; art bubble obliterated. Art critic Ben Lewis saw it coming. In fact, he was one of the guys who predicted it (he wrote about it in 2007), and, smart guy that he is, he picked up a camera and started filming stuff: the art dealers, the art fairs, the sunny talk of billionaire art buyers, the staggering art auctions in the spring and summer of 2008, and the terrible events at the auctions later that year. The resulting movie, ConArt Confidential: The Great Contemporary Art Bubble, necessarily pulls back the curtain on some of the nastier things in business of art, such as inflating prices at auctions, treating art as investments to be warehoused, and pickling cows. Lewis appears in person at the Jan. 15 and 16 screenings.
Jan. 15-21, 7 & 9 p.m.; Sat., Jan. 16, 3 & 5 p.m.; Jan. 22-28, 6:30 p.m., 2010

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Michael Leaverton

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