English conceptual artist, photographer, painter and installation artist. He is associated primarily with the Goldsmiths College group, sometimes known as the ‘Freeze Generation', which emerged in the late 1980s. In February 1988, as a second-year student, Fairhurst organised a small group exhibition at the Bloomsbury Gallery of the University of London Institute of Education; it included, alongside his own work, art by fellow students Mat Collishaw, Abigail Lane and Damien Hirst. This was a kind of precursory event for the more dynamic and famous Freeze exhibition of summer 1988, curated by Hirst, in which he also participated.
Fairhurst experimented with photographic images of the human figure in Man Abandoned by Space (1992). In other works he attached hundreds of plastic garment tags to the surface of Cibachrome photographs in evenly spaced rows as a kind of visual obstacle through which one's eyes have to manoeuvre to see the image underneath. For the sound piece Gallery Connections (1991–6; London, Tate) Fairhurst connected two gallery employees on the telephone by ringing them both himself and holding together the receivers. Neither party could grasp the agenda of their conversation and in the confusion we hear them become increasingly defensive and hostile. That the humour may be on the level of an adolescent prank does not lessen its impact as a mischievous act of cultural terrorism against the incestuous, gossipy and self-regarding world of contemporary art.