“Depravity is part of the job description.”

“I’m not a politician, I’m an artist,” Mr. Horsley said. “Depravity is part of the job description.”

I am confused by that line from an article in The New York Times about Sebastian Horsley, a British memoirist who was recently denied entry to the US for a book tour. If this were a test and I was asked to “correct” that sentence, I would wrongly circle the two nouns in the first part of the quote with red pen and insert the proofreading switcheroo symbol and then wait for an approving pat on the head. Imaginary emails to Mr. Horsley requesting further explanation were not returned as of press time for this post.

Sebastian Horsley - “Dandy of the Underworld”Quote from the NYT article – ‘In “Dandy of the Underworld” Mr. Horsley, who is notorious in Britain, writes of being raised by alcoholic, sexually promiscuous parents and bouncing through several schools. He details a debauched life of cocaine, heroin, opium and amphetamine use, writing that he spent more than £100,000 (nearly $200,000) on crack cocaine and £100,000 to consort with more than 1,000 prostitutes. He also chronicles his trip to the Philippines to be hung from a cross, an event that was recorded by a photographer and videographer and formed part of an art exhibition that was extensively covered by the news media in his home country.’

I made a proofreading note in red in that above bit pasted directly from the NYT article above. It’s an actual error. See image.

This reminds me of that store in Northampton which is called, “Dandy in the Underworld”, and which, at least as of my last visit, did not seem to sell items such as cocaine, heroin, opium and amphetamine and prostitution. Or depravity.

Anyway – For these sinful crimes, he was turned back at the airport and denied entry to this country for a book tour and media events. Maybe he could send Sebastian Junger as a partial doppelganger/stunt double.


And from The Observer

The agony and the ecstasy

Artists suffer for their work, but few are prepared to go as far as Sebastian Horsley. Here, the ‘Soho Kristos’ talks to Jessica Berens about his crucifixion, self-publicity and winning over the doubting Thomases

Sunday May 26, 2002
The Observer

‘When the artist Sebastian Horsley was thrown out of St Martin’s School of Art for forging a document to gain a grant, he didn’t mind too much. He was afraid that an institution might ‘normalise’ him. As a painter he never wanted to paint things as they were, but the way he felt and sensed they were, and the only way to achieve this was to undergo experience. When he painted sharks in 1997, he went into the sea in a cage and looked at them face to teeth. So, when he decided to paint the crucifixion, he decided he needed to be crucified. In the Philippines to be exact. On the week of his 38th birthday.’Sebastian Horsley - “Crucifixion”

Maybe the forging of the document to gain a grant is part of what he means by depravity. I wonder if his photography was consistent. Anyway–it was an interesting article.

The Observer article continues with – ‘Rachel Campbell-Johnston, an art writer who was his girlfriend at the time, did not discourage him. ‘I admired him for doing something that most people wouldn’t have dared to do and I was proud of him for sticking to his ideals in the face of disapproval and ridicule. I believed there was something pure amid all his complicated motivations.’ His mother, Valerie Walmsley-Hunter, showed similar equanimity.’

I admire him too, especially for sticking to his ideals.

[link to crucixion lane project site]


2 Responses to ““Depravity is part of the job description.””

  1. Morning, Mo… But you conveniently left out an important reference from the article, as his politician-artist statement refers specifically to New York’s Spitzer. You got a guffaw out of me with the slides reference.

  2. He seems like an interesting fellow.

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