Damien Hirst's 'Unbelievable' Exhibit: a Fresh Look at an Old Story

The long-awaited solo exhibition of one of the most expensive and the most controversial artists of our time demonstrated the perfect technique of creating a myth. Damien Hirst spent ten years preparing to create a stir again, notifying the world that he has changed. ArtUkraine knows the details.


The scientists, from Galileo to Newton, some wealthy, interested in the arts and history, always have had some collections where there was everything. From the Unicorn's bone to the sphere for premonitions, the potions to feel good to the alchemical texts.


The exhibition of Damian Hirst, which opened Thursday at Palazzo Grassi and Punta della Dogana, is in this framework, in the mass of a thousand things that any intellectual retained, in the times when it was thought that culture was universal, that each of us, individually, could collect all the knowledge that the world was offering.


A huge amount, uneven, of objects that have little to do with each other.


Photographed by Prudence Cuming Associates © Damien Hirst and Science Ltd. All rights reserved, DACS/SIAE 2017


Damien Hirst, father of the young British artist, after years put himself out there with this giant exhibition, that uses for the first time  both venues, completely changing himself and his work. Here there are no provocations, animals, drugs, colored dots. In this sense, the bet is high, because it takes the scene abandoning what made him famous, refusing to repeat itself, if not for the  wealth. It seems that like the Gagosian of 20 years ago, even the good Pinault has provided unlimited funds.


Photographed by Prudence Cuming Associates © Damien Hirst and Science Ltd. All rights reserved, DACS/SIAE 2017


The story is simple: in 2008 it was discovered the wreck of a ship sank off the east coast of Africa, belonged to Cif Amotan II, a freedman of Antioch lived between I and II century AD. He freed himself from slavery and gathered an immense fortune among art works , jewelry, antiques, spoils of war. This treasure was loaded onto his ship to be  brought to a temple, but never arrived at its destination. Then the recent discovery, the re-emergence of encrusted artifacts from the sea, sometimes very damaged. That this story is a complete fabrication is unimportant. The story holds in the exhibition beyond the inconsistencies.


So triune works: sculptures rebuilt as new,  falsely sculptures subjected to  spend time on the seabed, video or picture of their recovery. Here, size matters: from tiny gold sculptures to the 18 meters of the giant's height that fills the courtyard of Palazzo Grassi (Demon with Bowl). Also the materials: gold, silver, bronze, black and white granite.


Demon with Bowl

Photographed by Veditu


The challenge is to create, provide the public with a story, a fairy tale and will be here, in our opinion, the success or failure of this exhibition. Beyond the technical expertise, the cost of production of this enormity similar to a collection, the impression that is created is truly to enter in a strange archaeological museum. At this also serve the ornaments, such as the caskets with the collections of fake rare shells, which are a  fall in the tension of the exhibition, they certainly will not be sold to an hight price, but they offset, creating the image of the museum. Basically in any discovery there can be the wonderful, but also the tool, the consumer good, the shell.


Photographed by Prudence Cuming Associates © Damien Hirst and Science Ltd. All rights reserved, DACS/SIAE 2017


The materials are conventional ones, the works have  an aspect that can be ambiguously connected to experiences already lived. We are surprised for the size, the precious, of the caskets, in a very elaborated fiction language that makes this surplus of fantastic syncretism, between myth and cartoon, surrealism and jewel, gods and monsters in a credible collection of the wonders of an invented world. So much so that a toy, a robot, put into glass case, all of gold, with its excellent caption, can certainly represent a deity and the incredible abilities in aging of works with rust, sponges, algae and shells, just as fake, as it makes it plausible marine finds.


Photographed by Prudence Cuming Associates © Damien Hirst and Science Ltd. All rights reserved, DACS/SIAE 2017


The fairy tales, the stories, at the dawn of humanity was needed for recognize, ritualized, defeat the real and imaginary dangers, to reconnect with nature. Even with the advent of the novel, the narrative has maintained, according W.Benjamin its function: "on the one hand the meaning of life, the other the moral of the story". Damien offers this in the exhibition, a fairy tale and a game, that ridiscute a large part of contemporary art that instead brings to the concept, to the minimalism of the artistic gesture and of the space that contains it. Here is the provocation of the treasures from the wreck of the unbelievable, the real controversial point  and the novelty. Certainly coming out of this experience, the public can not say, "This I could do it myself."  It may pleasure at the Market?