For the first time, a project by a single artist, damien hirst, will be presented across both Palazzo Grassi and Punta della Dogana. “Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable”, curated by Elena Geuna, presents new work in an ambitious project That the artist has spent almost ten years on. This exhibition is also the first major solo show to be dedicated to the British artist in Italy since 2004.
<span class="alinea"></span>In 1817, in Biographia Literaria, Coleridge first formulated his notion of the “willing suspension of disbelief,” which for the next two centuries became a major point of reference for thinking about both the experience and the creation of works of art. This idea occupies a central role in “Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable,” an exhibition of new work by Damien Hirst presented across both Punta della Dogana and Palazzo Grassi. “Treasures” is incomparable, in the strictest sense of the word, in the richness of its iconographic inspiration, its diversity of materials, and the degree of perfection brought to its realization. This is an all-encompassing project in which one’s full apprehension of the physical, material, tangible reality of the exhibit is achieved through the deviation of storytelling, fiction and belief, the desire for which we all cherish.
<span class="alinea"></span>“Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable” puts to the test the demiurgic dimension of a creative process which is not only a question of inventing works, but also the universe from which they proceed, the geographic, cultural, temporal conditions of their real or imaginary origin and of their birth, their metamorphoses, and their rebirth, beyond (or returning from) oblivion, disappearance, and death.
<span class="alinea"></span>“Treasures” find an unmatched setting in Punta della Dogana and Palazzo Grassi. It is an environment in which many elements participate: the omnipresence of water, which can be seen from almost all the rooms of Punta della Dogana; the power of Venice’s naval history, inscribed in both the city’s geography and in its immense literary resonance; the impressive tangibility of the previous life of the two venues, which for centuries were respectively a customs warehouse for goods arriving by sea, and a rich merchant’s palace; and the fact that until recently Palazzo Grassi was known for the presentation of a series of major archaeological exhibitions (now legendary, they ran between 1988 and 2008) that were devoted to the Phoenicians, Celts, Greeks, Etruscans, Mayans, Egyptian pharaohs and, finally, Rome and the barbarians.
<span class="alinea"></span>The project also enjoys the context of a trusting relationship between artist and collector that has endured for almost thirty years. The collector, François Pinault, chose to make his Venetian museums places where artists can realize their most ambitious projects. Together, the buildings operate as a true endorsement of, and a commitment to, an approach that relies on experimentation and taking risks, which is epitomised by this exhibition.