Next week will see the launch of Garage, a new art and fashion magazine edited by Dasha Zhukova, who is best known for; cofounding a contemporary arts centre in Moscow, being the former editor of the style periodical Pop and billionaire Roman Abramovitch’s long-term girlfriend. The first cover sets out to shock (WHSmith has reportedly banned it), with a photograph of a naked young woman with a green butterfly sticker placed over her shaved pubic mound. “Peel slowly and see,” reads the cover line. And when you do, there is her labia tattooed with a butterfly, its abdomen formed by her pudendal cleft.
This is not just any butterfly, however. It is a Damien Hirst butterfly – so it’s, like, definitely art. (If Hirst was branded a sadist in 2003 for making art out of thousands of tropical butterfly wings then what, one wonders, does this make him?) Titled Butterfly Divided, it is one of a series of tattoos by famous artists (all men, sigh), including the Chapman Brothers and Jeff Koons, inked onto volunteers (Hirst’s “canvas” is 23-year-old Londoner, Shauna Taylor). The works play on notions of who owns the art and what it’s worth, while referencing tattooing’s popularity reaching saturation point.
Asked why she agreed to the tattoo, Taylor answered: “Not one single person can ever say they gave birth through a Damien Hirst piece of art. I can [if I ever give birth].” And the evocation of associated graphic imagery continues when, later in the magazine, Jake Chapman says in his interview about the Inked project: “I like the butterfly on the string [Shauna showed her tattoo while wearing a tampon]”.
There are some fun fashion shoots, including pictures of Zhukova’s octogenarian, former research scientist gran, wearing a fabulous vintage ensemble. But other spreads are sadly peppered with more unfortunate shaved female crotch shots. And what to make of the butterfly? Personally, I prefer Dinos Chapman’s offering – he tattooed “I’m with this idiot” on his own arm, underneath a hand pointing at himself.
What do you think of Taylor and Hirst’s butterfly? Challenging, yawn-inducing, beautiful, irritating, silly or a wee bit gross?