Damien Hirst's ‘Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable’ | La Vita Nuova | Year Abroad Adventures

Thursday, 26 October 2017

Damien Hirst's ‘Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable’

The Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable exhibition was kind of a must-see before it ends in December, and no, not just because Damien Hirst is also British! Although he's a bit of a strange artist for some, given the chance to see his work in Venice (which was free with my student card), I couldn't really say no! Although I went with several other Erasmus students, I mostly went around the museum at my own pace. It's kind of funny because I already spent a significant amount of my summer in Devon (UK) and saw his statue of Verity in Ilfracombe too – I can't escape Damien Hirst, it seems...

View from Punta della Dogana
I only managed to see the part of Treasures of the Wreck housed in Punta della Dogana this time, since I had to leave early to go to a university radio event. The other part is in Palazzo Grassi, which I'm hoping to be able to visit at some other time. Punta della Dogana itself is a very pretty part of Venice, even now as the weather gets colder and mistier. Standing right at the edge of the land, you can see a great panoramic view of the rest of Venice... and take the obligatory selfies! 😉

The concept of Treasures from the Wreck is this: a collection of various treasures retrieved from an ancient shipwreck of the Apistos ("Unbelievable"). These were supposedly bought by a freed slave named Cif Amotan II... but before you get too excited, a few comments on a Guardian article seem to have already written this off as an anagram of "I am a fiction"!

Although Damien Hirst's world may be a fiction, I'm of the opinion that it doesn't hurt to suspend one's disbelief for a little while to enjoy the artwork on its own terms. The quote over the door as you go in even alludes to this: "Somewhere between lies and truth lies the truth". Nice wordplay! And granted, contemporary art is always controversial, but I certainly found the exhibition interesting even if I didn't understand it fully!

Calendar Stone
The Warrior and the Bear
I've included pictures of a few of my own personal favourite pieces, but the sheer amount of "artefacts" (both big and small) that have been created for this exhibition is simply astounding – if you didn't know any better, you could probably be fooled into thinking you'd walked into a museum instead!

One of the Lion Women of Asit MayorThe Collector with Friend
For me, the most impressive artwork was the two statues (pictured below) of Hydra and Kali – in real life these figures look so dynamic that you can really picture the two of them locked in battle. I feel very lucky to have had the opportunity to see this kind of exhibition up close and personal, and in the beautiful city of Venice to boot. If you'll be in the city whilst it's here and you like/don't mind modern art, check it out! But it depends what you guys think: a thought-provoking collection of art, or a meaningless waste of money? You be the judge...

Two versions of Hydra and Kali

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