Damien Hirst is exhibiting a giant men sculpture in the museum space across Palazzo Grassi and Punta della Dogana in Venice. The theme is underwater fantasy exhibition ‘treasures’
It all begins with ‘once upon a time…’ — curator Elena Geuna’s opening statement on Damien Hirst’s wildly elaborate exhibition in Venice. With such a fantastical and intriguing preface as this, it’s no wonder ‘treasures of the wreck of the unbelievable’ is being called Hirst’s most ambitious and complex project to date.
More than 10 years in the making, the exhibition revolves around 190 works of art that occupy over 5,000 square meters. The showcase unfolds around the story of a fictional ship wreck from ancient times, and unearths the discovery of its curious cargo — an underwater fantasy filled with precious objects and artefacts.
Hirst posits that the collection of cargo was the apparent fortune of a freed slave from antioch (north-west turkey) named aulus calidius amotan aka Cif Amotan II, whose ship ( the apistos – from koine greek translates as ‘unbelievable’) sunk on its journey to asit mayor — a temple dedicated to the sun. The tale of the unfortunate wreck that laid for some two thousand years in the Indian ocean and its precious treasures lost at sea was spread across the world when almost a decade after the site was discovered in 2008 excavations began. Bloated with excess wealth, the treasures he was able to collect are commissions, copies, fakes, purchases and plunder…
A number of the sculptures are exhibited prior to undergoing restoration, heavily encrusted in corals and other marine life, at times rendering their forms virtually unrecognisable: enormous sea creatures, nude figures and female busts.