Coincidetally with the 57th Venice Biennale, Damien Hirst’s “Treasures From the Wreck of the Unbelievable”, occupies, until December 3rd, both the Venetian museums run by the Pinault Foundation, Punta della Dogana and the Palazzo Grassi, with 189 pieces – including a 60 feet high sculptures and 21 cabinets filled with smaller objects – on show on 54,000 square feet of exhibition space.
The displayed artifacts, once owned by the second-century collector Cif Amotan II, have been salvaged from a vessel found by archaeologists in 2008 on the bottom of the Indian Ocean at Hirst expense. However, the visitor soon discovers that the shipwreck is a farce. Works like the coral-encrusted bronze self-portrait of the artist as Amotan holding Mickey Mouse by the hand, make obvious the fact that all the objects have been realized by Hirst and his collaborators, mixing ancient and contemporary materials, such as bronze and gold with steel and LEDs, busts of Egyptian, Greek, and Hindu deities, with Mickey Mouse and Goofy statues, Transformers model, Mowgli playing with the Baloo and two self-portraits of Hirst impersonating no one less than Cif Amotan II, the phantom owner of the sunken vessel. It seems that Hirst intentions were to save, re-create and re-invent all the ancient art with the addition of some baffling pop and contemporary works, mixing styles and confusing their time lines.
“Treasures From the Wreck of the Unbelievable” is also a gigantic selling exhibition, in fact, all the works are for sale for prices that range between $500,000 and $5,000,000 for a single piece.
Ilona Catani Scarlett