BgArt News Blog
Wednesday, May 24, 2006
  Damien Hirst's Diamond Skull
The contemporary British artist Damien Hirst is working on creating one of the most expensive works to be created. The work will be a life sized skull cast in platinum and then covered in diamonds.
"For the Love of God" will cost up to $18 million to create and will have as many as 8500 diamonds stuck to it.
"The biggest expense will be the fifty-caret beauty that will sit on the forehead. That one alone will cost in the region of three to five million pounds. It is certainly the biggest single undertaking by a jeweler since the Crown jewels." Damien Hirst

I still haven't worked out if I love or hate Damien Hirst. He's an artist that you have to either embrace or reject completely. One thing that no one can deny the artist, is that he is a master marketer.
>> Damien Hirst News
BgArt News Blog Comments:
I cant decide if I love him or hate him either but I do read news about him with a certain interest.. Like a car crash really. I wonder if this work will be only about the cost and the worth of the materials... It seems to be the only concept behind it. a bit sensationalist really..
What a waste of money.
If I look in Hirst's eyes in recent photographies I feel there only emptiness and desperation. That lets him make such silly works, I assume.
recently i read a story about a janitor tossing one of Hirst's pieces because he thought it was trash. It was a pretty amusing tale.
I can decide that he is not an artist. I can confirm that he is a master marketeer. The two callings are often confused by people afraid of being called philistines. Google Nicola Slattery... thats art!!
Yeah, he's definately sensationalist.. but that's how he gets free worldwide publicity.

It does make you think about better ways to spend so much money too, but than he wouldnt get all this publicity if he just put one or two diamonds on it.

I think Damien Hirst needs the freakshow factor to remain relevant, otherwise he would quickly become boring and un-newsworthy. But that's what is great about him, he keeps getting attention year after year.
Anon suggested to Google NICOLA SLATTERY....her work is reminiscent of Picasso's women on the beach.

Damien Hirst is more like a celebrity than an artist...he has made it to the point where whatever he does vies for attention. It's like how we read the covers of tabloids while waiting in line at the grocery store. It's mostly us the public that make someone famous. If nobody bought those magazines or raved about certain movies (Da Vinci Code) or made a fuss about the crazy stunts (David Blaine) would these 'artists' be as famous?

It also comes down to not knowing the name related to the work...if we didn't know that Hirst created "The Virgin Mother" sculpture that was recently put up, would we care as much?
Anon suggests google Nicola Slattery - I agree her work has many elements of other artists - Picasso, Chagall, and of course medieval and Renaissance artists who were often anon also! A lot of art that has stood the test of time is by unknown individuals. Folk and so called naive art often sells for many thousands without the dubious benifit of an art star name. Slattery clearly often paints sheep - thank goodness she doesn't yet pickle them!
I think "Anon" should just sign his/her comments with the website address of Nicola's work, rather than making people Google it.

Choose "Other" instead of "Anonymous" when commenting and just add your/her website.

That way, the comment can be related to the post and there's a direct link to the site.
And there's less chance I would delete it, as a lot of comments are just trying to promote something or someone.
Sorry for any misunderstanding.I was trying to make a point that many great works of art from history are by anonymous individuals - male and female. My name is Earl and I'm just trying to be a better person - but I think I'll probably end up just being deleted! I'll add Slattery's web site as requested anyway.
We are all trying to promote something. This blog site certainly carries a lot about Damian Hirst as well as google adds for his prints. Maybe the real identity of BgArt News Blog is Damian himself??? Good luck Mr Hirst with your diamond freak show - thats a great way to spend an arts council grant!!! It's a pity I just asked for paints and paper when I last applied. And yes I've seen Nicolas work in Ipswich and other places and it is worth checking out.
Sure, it's a good point, and very true.

And, no I'm not Damien Hirst. There's a few posts about Hirst because he's always in the news. That's what is so great about him. Personally I don't like his work as it's cold and lifeless, but rather than getting mad at him getting all the attention, I would rather learn from him, or at least admire how he does it.

Also, I don't mind people promoting themself on the blog, as long as it's done properly. If it's just promotion, it usually gets deleted. If it's a comment about the post and it has your address at the bottom of it, it is never deleted.
BgArt News Blog, your "I'm" link doesn't work.

Thanks Jacoblog
It must have been my webhost that was down, which doesnt surprise me at all!

I'm in the process of moving it to the same webhost that buygazette is with. There's just never enough hours in the day ;-)
Ah, the site is now working. Very nice work! I like the monochromatic colours and style - I find your 2003 'Self Portrait' and 'Newcastle Ocean Baths' very engaging.
Thanks for the kind words Jacoblog.

Glad the site was working too ;-)
one question people? where have the diamonds originated from? are they ethical or are they conflict? we have to ask these questions regardless of how an icon is represented.
At least the new piece will have some intrinsic value, which is more than can be said for most of his editioned works. Nice trick, for someone will think that if the diamond encrusted skull is worth a fortune then everything else must be worth something too. But is he merely propping up a market for Dutch tulips? Perhaps, in the tradition of Warhol and Koons, there is redemption for inane things, if they are at least beautiful. Even if the person making them is blithely cashing in.
how much do all damiens flunkies get paid????
This could be his 'sickest' piece yet!

'I just want to celebrate life by saying to hell with death,' said the artist, 'What better way of saying that than by taking the ultimate symbol of death and covering it in the ultimate symbol of luxury, desire and decadence? The only part of the original skull that will remain will be the teeth. You need that grotesque element for it to work as a piece of art. God is in the details and all that.'

Is he SO ignorant and cosetted that he genuinely has NO idea how many Diamond Miners die EVERY day, for the sake of such useless follies? Miners as young as eight, earning around one dollar a day. Any search engine faced with "diamond mining, deaths" would help to educate him. A Philip Glass film could educate him further, but if he were to spend some of his ill gotten gains on a trip to Sierra Leone or the like, perhaps he'd do something to HELP the World, rather than stuffing the Bank Hirst.
Art is what you make of it. Art is what you claim it to be. Anything can be art in the eyes of someone- a sunset, a seashell, an expensive car, a beautiful building, or a platinum skull covered in diamonds.

One of my favorite types of art that I enjoy creating is "found art"- take a piece of trash off of the NYC street, mount it cleanly, frame it. Now it's art. What does that mean? Art is what you think it is. If Hirst's skull is artistic to one person, then it's art. -B in NYC
I don't think one has to be that radical in either accepting or rejecting him. I may dislike the sensationalism but support his views on the issues he raises.
I think he makes money look cheap, which is important.
I can't decide whether i love him or hate him either. i do think he's an innovator and like every other movement of art, everyone hates it at first because its unconventional and senasitonlist. But so was Monet and the impressionists. His work alone might inspire others to do great things and create new movements. However i hate this skull. In one area of my mind i think its not the diamonds fault that humans put a price on them. And good on Hirst for putting up the money to use the diamonds as a material. They do come actually come from the earth and maybe in some other age they would of been used in that way. However 18 million pounds could of saved lives or helped struggling art students like myself and gained just as much publicity. I would love to know also if the diamonds have been farmed legally also. As beautiful as it is money could of been spend in a thosand better ways.
I feel the goal of creating the most expensive by a living artist is great concept to play with. Why didn’t someone think of this a long time ago? He chose materials that demand a high price tag, no bronze or paint. I do enjoy that he chose jewelry materials to achieve this goal. Jewelry is one of the biggest symbols of wealth through out history.

This piece speaks the hard truth about the art world and what drives it.

Bravo Damien!
Hirst follows right in the footsteps of his dadaist forefathers. All of the "is it art" questions on this blog would fit right into a discussion of Duchamp's "Fountain," which almost 100 years ago caused the same type of sensation/discussion that Hirst's work gives rise to today. Take a look at Fountain, and I'm sure you'll agree that most of the comments on this blog apply equally to it, even today. But the fact remains that Fountain is one of the most recognizable and influential pieces of art ever created. Whether "For the Love of God" will approach that status remains to be seen, but I don't think anyone can't rule it out. The question "is it art" is a rhetorical one. It's a question that answers itself. Love him or hate him, there's no denying that Hirst's nailed it, again. Kudos to him, I wish I'd thought of it first.
Hirst's talent lies in his ability to turn art into commerce. He effectively turned Duchamp into Prada, Goya into Dolce&Gabbana.....

Formally his art is merely interesting, poetic in the way that advertisements can be...his only "brilliance" lies in his publicity.

Morally he's a bloody pig.
A Letter to Caiaphas Paintbrush (Damian Hirst) From Daniel Partlow

Mr. Caiaphas Paintbrush (Mr. Damien Hirst),
Your gem encrusted ephod betrays your office as the First

High Priest of Death, Eighty Six-ing the dry bones of man
You cannot breathe life into them with your formaldehyde can.

Even your vain symbol – the requin predator of the seas
Could not help but rot. Now you may think you hold the keys,

But God shows His power – even through the works of you the Deceiver
His Sense of Irony has been shown through you and this Christian Believer.

Caiaphas proudly thought that he had engineered the crucifixion of the Christ.
But it was only through the work of the unseen Father that he had been enticed

Into fulfilling the purpose of the Son of Man – Yes, he thought he was the Boss
But in his own mouth, God voiced the prophecy of the power of the Cross.

“Ye know nothing at all, you do not consider. Is it not expedient for us?
That one man should die for all the people, for to save the whole nation thus.”

Neither he nor you bear the anointing of Levi but of the Procurator Gratus
Corruption, Deception, and Violence-Gratis

The chief priests and elders assemble in your palace
To revel at the ossuaries of your Sadduceen malice

Outwardly gleaming white: the clean lines of the post-modern-contemporary
But inwardly filled with death and unclean doctrine which seeks to soil or burry

The Truth, the Word, the message of the Gospel’s good news.
Pretending that the drugs and toxins which man doth abuse

Hold the key to his eternal salvation
You play fast and loose with your eternal damnation.

But after all – that’s the nature of your game
That’s your mission and your power, the reason for your fame.

Your work mocks and eschews the use of His gift: The Word.
And in His symbol of the Holy Paraclete, you see only a dead bird.

You worship your beefy angel with his dead and powdered bones.
Sing praises to your father with the great noise of chaos-static and human groans

“I don't mind, if it falls over and the glass breaks” No loss could make you weep:
“If the sheep falls out you can always get a new sheep”

But the Good Shepherd goes to search out and save every single lamb.
He does not abandon them to the seductive secular sham

For, it is only His blood which preserves life, not your saline drips
These are the confessions which have passed across you lips:

You have said that you think you are 'a hardcore atheist.'
And your mignon-minions feed upon the head of your fly-apiarist

“I’m trying to be a hardcore atheist, and then I keep making work like this.”
And so you have lied to your disciples: ‘suicide is perfect bliss’.

Well Bravo, At least Caiaphas has become aware of the irony of his corrupted blend.
Now, it was a year before the exhibition of your pedagogy that “The Flocks” was penned.

I am asking you directly whether you were aware of this work
Or whether you were unwittingly bearing witness to who you are with a smug smirk.

Now it is clear from your school house work Mr. Damien Hirst
That your life (that you both live and espouse) represents an unquenched thirst.

Read ‘The Flock’s have Left the Fold (2006) ’ sir, if you have not already.
We may be interpreting the same thing, with the same imagery, the parallels are heady.

Some observations about society may even be consistent in these messages shrill.
But they are incompatible if your curator represents you in suggesting eternal salvation is found in a pill.

Like you, Caiaphas the High Priest Sadducee rejected true life to infinity
But God made him an unwilling pawn in the affirmation of the trinity.

But you know where to turn – for He will, if you ask, give you the true living water.
And even you sir, can be saved from the upcoming slaughter.

Not through the righteous but vain acts of crimson generosity.
For scarlet sin still coats the Paintbrush of every gross artistic atrocity.

But only through repentance and humble acceptance of Christ’s gift.
Can you ever hope to cross the chasm and heal your heart’s rift.

I think perhaps you’ve had a glimpse of eternity, but your art has taken you only to the edge of the abyss.
Without grabbing the hand of the Lord, your heart and mind will forever be amiss.

If I am wrong about your thirsting, and you are simply full of your formaldehyde, then I truly pity you
Because true satisfaction will ever elude he who proudly pretends atheism true.

In your blackboard I have seen the frog-eye patch, but also a longing for the infinite.
Here are other poet’s descriptions of a better longing which comes with confidence in the infinite.

“Seated one day at the organ, I was weary and ill at ease,
And my fingers wandered idly over the noisy keys;

I know not what I was playing or what I was dreaming then,
But I struck one chord of music, like the sound of a great Amen,

It flooded the crimson twilight, like the close of an Angel's Psalm,
And it lay on my fever'd spirit, with a touch of infinite calm,

It quieted pain and sorrow, like love overcoming strife,
It seem'd the harmonious echo from our discordant life.

It link'd all perplexed meanings, into one perfect peace,
And trembled away into silence, as if it were loth to cease;

I have sought but I seek it vainly, that one lost chord divine,
Which came from the soul of the organ, and enter'd into mine.

It may be that Death's bright Angel, will speak in that chord again;
It may be that only in Heav'n, I shall hear that grand Amen.”

“When we’ve been there ten thousand years, bright shining as the sun,
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise, than when we’d first begun.”

I asterix the passages from The Flocks Have Left the Fold which you have incorporated in your School…
The Flocks Have Left the Fold

The flower of the thorny roses dead, calls, forestalls the *loss of their head
Entering the bed, the deuce covers *lost alba hue with *paint of red…

The fields of wheat are filled with weeds; some *fig trees have stopped fruiting
The time of beast and serpent nears, they plot the vineyard vines *uprooting.

Following the serpents siren song, the *flocks have left the fold
The proud have wandered away from their shepherd of old.

Prowling and coordinating the foretold plan, the beast
Enlists the ranks of predators into the brotherhood of serpentine false priest

Leviathan lies in wait beneath the marshy fen
And signals fellow minions to prepare to begin.

Though the fisherman's schools of fish are teaming
The requin shiver circles, the *crafty sharks are scheming.

The *sheep are all *divided many driven to distraction
The weak have followed the proud out of simple interest or attraction

In rites of bleating howls, the pack promises the sheep a lupine fleece to try-on
And some wander off entranced by the gentle purring of the lion

The raven deals with them to sell their *pure white wool.
For the price of initiation into the party of *boasting bull.

They receive on their *foreheads and bodies the blood-letting leeches
For the serpent *demands their blood: one of the many heresies he teaches.

The shepherd calls each one back to the fold by name
He sends his helpers out to warn them of their foolish game.

The razorbacks and wild dogs sense opportunities for gluttonous gouts of blood.
And help the proud sheep to entice their brothers away from meadows into bogs of mud.

The proud ones tell the others that the shepherd was a myth
Frolicking with the leopards is liberating - run to them forthwith.

The lion invites the sheep to observe the land from his perch in the trees
In giddy thrill, they ignore the helpers' warnings, calls, and pleas.

Let the condors lift to new heights, and teach flight to our little lambs
Predation is a fairy tale; the old limitations and doctrines are only shams

Just look at the awesome strength of our new friend tiger.
Let us emulate the lion dam and give him offspring like the liger.

Our 'shigers' will be big and strong, clearly superior
Be brave and leave turf-eaters behind to old-fashioned ways inferior

In fact, who needs them any way? They only hold us back.
Let us instead learn the ways of wolf so we can run freely with the pack.

If the coyote has so many clever wiles
Let us learn his wisdom and his ways, all his genius guiles.

Oh, the time has come, curious oyster friends to speak of other things
The walrus begins his smoke screen bluster about cabbages and kings.

The Frog-Eye Patch burns the green grass with its *pattern of sixes
Fungus catches in the proud sheep’s *throats and eventually asphixes.

Familial hives of bees collapse because of homogeneity, varoa, and mites.
And the unpollinated blossoms dropp and wither from the *droughts and blights.

Some queer self-mutating crops have been sown in some of the farmer’s fields
Which repel the remaining good pollinators and produce unfruitful yields.

The rows are then attacked by flies, robigus, galls and canker.
Spreading their lies, hatred, apostasy and rancor.

The blades of wheat are attacked by a sickening *black stem rust.
Converting good nutrients into vomit-toxin, *mold, and must.

Fusarium, hessians, long-horned beetles, scorch, and scabby ghosts
Stage their attack on the figs from the barbarous barberry bushes and other evil hosts.

The biting flies goad the sheep to fight with each other.
That they may feed upon the *carrion of the weaker brother.

The fish in streams and seas though belonging to the fisher
Are stolen one by one in beastly deed which evil times doth usher.

'Come to me little fishes' calls the crafty bear.
Fly up from your stream beds taste the freedoms of the air.

Go with the flow little fishes calls the Dead sea of blood and *salt.
Forget the rumors heard of how your heart and gills will halt.

Innocuously swims up the aqueous serpent, preparing his venom rank
We're in this stream *bed together – but I can teach you to crawl upon the eastern bank.

The crocs circle round, overhearing the trap the snake has planned,
And call the sheep for a swimming lesson, 'come down to the *banks of sand'

The hyena laughs at the shepherd's doctrine: a call to repent.
And offers what he says the shepherd *really meant.

The coyote shrieks in the piteous pitch of yin.
With feigned wound and false pride, more sheep are taken-in.

The false prophecy of boa winds itself among its prey.
Binding them in sin for constriction on the beastly day.

Oh the ostriches, wildcats and owls, prepare for the satyr’s fest.
The desert beast and jackal in *palaces howl; the gazelles are hunted without rest.

Proud sheep denigrate ‘ditzy’ lady ewes and the 'insensitive' male rams
Creating *divisions and suffering among families and *offending the little lambs.

The zeitgeist of the time causes a brooding robin great despair.
And in faithless confusion she is caught in the *trapper’s snare.

Her abandoned hatchlings are flushed and caught by the hounds
The nest eggs are stolen by the adder – his dislocated jaw surrounds.

Disrespect and apathy are sown into the fields yielding briars and crabby-grass.
Viruses and killing spores are prepared for the anti-sacramental *black mass.

The scorpion brews his lethal *narco-stings
And tells the lambs of the wondrous feelings that it brings

The baboon *plies the lambs with his inebriating weed and *water
To numb and stupefy them for the upcoming *slaughter

The vulture circles above the *desert sands.
Awaiting the hour when *death descends upon the wayward lambs.

Impersonating the shepherd, but blaspheming his Word.
The predators close in to gorge upon the adepts of the *fallen herd.

Though *the smoke from Leviathan, the faithful sheep, it cannot smother.
It attempts, as apiarist, containment and apathy, preventing the rescue of their brother.

Cobra too *menaces faithful sheep, spewing venom through its headline fangs.
To deter them all from rescuing the lost from the clutches of the gangs.

*Cowed into helpless sedation, so many submit in ignorance or fear
Until, 'I give you not a spirit of timidity, but that of strength, ' His voice rings in their ear.

Under the protection of *shepherd's crook they march out bleating loud.
Calling all their family home before terrible fate is meted to the proud.

The helpers stand ready to free them from their mess.
When sheep look up to the shepherd and faithfully confess.

The helpers bleat for reason as the proud vainly bruises udders.
But with ears so full of lies some ignore the truth as merely *mutton mutters.

The good reapers work the fields to gather all the grain into the garner
Before the tares and chaff are burnt up, the shepherd sends out the final gleaning-warner.

All *faithful sheep and those repentant, behind the shepherd's gate
Saved from the ferule eels, all the schools within good fisher's net, the final catch is great.

Even some of the predator cubs reject their parent’s deceptive fables.
They forswear the *bullock’s blood eating just the scraps from the Shepherd’s table.

An *axe is laid at the root of the trees and each which brought forth not,
Yielded not good fruit, shall be hewn down, and cast into the fires hot.

Oh barren trees whose branches stretched out and blocked the light of the sun.
You drank up the waters of the earth and now thy time is nearly done.

The wind blows the chaff and tumbleweed before the storm and all hear their cries
The reeds and bulrushes fail when their stream recedes and dries.

In blasts of steam and *ash Leviathan begins to swell.
Withering the *unfruited boughs, he opens wide the mouth of hell.

The sheep gathered on his back feel a *rumbling thrill fantastic,
Uncertainty, then *terror… then *incineration in blasts black and pyroclastic

The *noxious fumes choke all in its wide and billowing path.
Save those protected by the shepherd, they feel their father's wrath.

Profaning the shepherd of the heavens, the *volcanic eruption peaks
Amid Hyena Laughs, Leopard Growls, Gorilla Hoots, Baboon Howls, and Coyote Shrieks,

All hell breaks loose, so many proud sheep are lost to the jackal
The boa cinches tight the noose, the fires rain and crackle.

The skies *blackened with soot, the locusts armed to teeth descend
Upon all the painted roses and corrupted vegetation on which wicked faithless sheep depend.

The black panthers under cover of the darkness prowl
Savaging, ravaging, the victims bemoan their fate and howl.

The tempest rages and many are destroyed by the wave and gale of hurricane.
Save those who trusted on the shepherd who long ago wailed in the ultimate of pain.

But now these *biting axes which held themselves above the lumberjack.
Are themselves thrown upon the ignited kindling stack.

The *saws and smiting rods are all forever broken.
When the apocalyptic word of fury is finally spoken.

The tyrants are thrown down to nether at the end of their term:
Their couch is the maggot and their blanket is the worm.

Sound the knell, true peace and the kingdom has finally come
Ring the bell, Alleluia and Hosanna: Let the angel’s harps be strum.

The skies are cleared - free forever from predator’s weapon stings.
Free at last - praise Immanuel – every voice together sings.

The pacific cubs then lie down with the good lambs and flocks
The new lion, bear, leopard, and wolf all eat the ample grass like the ox.

A river flows forth from the Shepherd and His new city is founded
In which the trumpets of peace shall be forever sounded.

A new Earth where forever Truth and the Shepherd reigns.
The deceivers and deceived all cast out: bearing their *perpetual chains.

So in the end, all the proud are lost to the pride,
For the pride devours those who can't admit that their serpent master lied.

So listen to this dormouse, and heed what the prophets have said.
*Keep your head. Indeed. Keep fresh your faith and heart and head.

A Letter to Caiaphas Paintbrush – Copyright © D. Partlow 2008
The Flocks Have Left the Fold – Copyright © D. Partlow 2006
Personally, I think Damien Hirst is a total idiot with no artistic talent, no creativity, and no imagination. That's just my personal opinion.
Divavicious makes the very real point that the bourgeois co-option of the arts is probably the single most debilitating influence on genuine creativity in the UK, actually throughout the world at the moment.

When it becomes crucial for a Royal College of Art graduate to have one of their inconsequential and callow daubs given the Scaaaarrrtchi seal of aesthetic approval or a Damian (Devil Child) Hirst wannabee to get their diamond encrusted turds enshrined in the trophy cabinet on some Russian Oligangsta's billion-dollar gin palace, then the situation has arrived in which everything becomes about cost and nothing about value. We are then inevitably forced witness the Glittericious from Monaco to Moscow rattling their jewellery at endless superannuated marketing gala concerts featuring ghastly meretricious travesties such as Katherine Jenkins, Ill (sic) Divo, Lang-Lang and their overtrained and underpowered ilk on behalf of Montblanc Pens, BMW and other pointless hi-end Corporate Sponsorfests.

Surely it cannot have failed to escape the notice of anyone with a nodding acquaintance with the history of art that wealth, patronage and the Fine-Arts-to-order market have always gone hand in hand.

The fundamental difference was that the Medicis, the Borghias et al were still believers in, or at least occasionally intimidated by the concept of "A God" and that supporting artists with real vision, discipline, developed talents, training and a sense of investment in the temporal to the greater glory of the spiritual, was a means by which Rennaissance Noblemen might get around Christ's severe admonishment concerning, rich men, eyes of needles, camels and heaven.

The question as to whether patronage inspires great art, or that the existence of the potential for great art as an extension of the idea of the Divine, inspires a desire to support its creation. In fact neither matters, as long as the common denominator is great art, rather the ongoing and relentlessly overhyped drivel which he taste-Nazis continue to pass as genuine creativity.

Charles Saatchi is an advertising man. He got all of his edgy, conceptual work tax free as examples of throwaway designs, occasionally useful in the flogging of oven-chips, mars bars, sanitary towels and all of the other useless consumptive detritius that his dreadful little business is engaged in forcing on the Droolers, Toilers and Couch-surfers of the world. To then use the black arts of marketing to artifically inflate both the inherent and actual values of this mostly inconsequential conceptual crap to the status of importance and value by giving it a name "Young British Art" shows chutzpah and a remarkable gift for stealing the product of your cess-pit and then selling it back to you as soap.

The funding equation will never balance; making good art is not easy, nor should it be.
Perhaps, however, there will a far more positive Artistic legacy than we ever imagined once we claw our way out of the looming depression. One in which only the committed and truly inspired will survive, and that in the final analysis,on the basis of natural selection will be good for art of any discipline. We shall see.....
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