My take is that some of it is art, maybe the shark in a tank or his cleaner work. The decaying cow carcass really has little of value besides shock. This is basically reality TV brought into a museum. Do we really value a decaying cow? I personally think it would be of more value to challenge massacres of people by Kony or overthrowing the CCP government for corruption and negligence in governance. I understand the cow decaying is easily understood, visualized and then demonstrated to the public as some freak show. Are museums really this desparate for bringing in crowds to the museum in the first place? I would suggest that the museums hosting such works, really just have poor choice (could be related to the patrons donating), which drive the poor ticket sales and underfunding issue.
The most troubling thing I find in the artworld is repetition of shock art. Once Duchamp made the infamous toilet urinal into art the flood gates were unleashed for ready mades. The problem in the issue is the copy cats, which add little to the shock and regurgitate something easily copied. What value is there in that? By this definition, I would say that Damien qualifies as “art” just because he was the first to use toxidermy to show as art rather than its typical macabre use. Additionally, since most artists while away on landscapes, portraits, still lifes and “untitled” works they just are regurgitating classic compositions, shapes, colors, mediums and close copies of work already established.