My brother, self-proclaimed “dandy in the underworld” Sebastian Horsley, was an artist most celebrated for his potentially (and in the end actually) self-destructive pursuits. A recent Time Out article listed him as one of London’s top ten drug-users; another 2014 piece about the Hollywood actor Shia LaBeouf wrote that my brother “convincingly made his own fatal self-destruction a work of art.” That sentence speaks volumes. Who exactly did my brother’s artistic self-destruction convince, and of what? That suicide is a worthy artistic pursuit? Or that artistic expression (or fame) is worth destroying oneself for? What sort of legacy does such a “work of art” leave? How can someone compulsively driven to destroy themselves be turned into a cause for celebration?
I am one of two people still living with close inside knowledge of the forces that drove my brother to self-destruct. As such, one thing is painfully clear to me: whatever “message” my brother conveyed, via his life and death, it is not a true message but a fiction: a cover story that covers a legion of sins.… Read the rest