Soiled were the streets of Venice last week in the name of Damien Hirst, courtesy of animal activists who literally dumped 88 pounds of turds outside the Palazzo Grassi to protest its forthcoming exhibition of the British artist’s newest work. Sometime around midnight on March 6, the Italian group 100% Animalisti hopped on a boat with poop-packed plastic bags and navigated the city’s canals before docking and carting its load to the contemporary art museum. There, at one of its entrances, the activists did the dung drop, below a white banner that made their message unmistakable: “DAMIEN HIRST GO HOME! BECCATI QUESTA OPERA D’ARTE! 100% ANIMALISTI” — or, in English, what translates roughly to the pooh-poohing jab: “Here is my piece of artwork.”
The cause for the caca fracas is Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable, Hirst’s much-anticipated body of work apparently 10 years in the making. Opening on April 9, it also marks his first major solo show in Italy in over a decade. Not much is known about it aside from two obnoxious, incredibly brief promotional videos that flash underwater scenes. Speaking with those who have seen parts of it, the New York Times reported that the project “resembles jeweled buried treasure covered with coral as if just pulled out of the ocean, like relics from the lost city of Atlantis or Captain Nemo. It includes some 250 pieces in various sizes ranging in price from about $400,000 for small jade objects to $4 million for a malachite head of Medusa.”
On its website, 100% Animalisti explains that it wanted to show its contempt toward “this fake artist (like [Hermann] Nitsch and [Maurizio] Cattelan) and those who support him” and blasts Hirst for capitalizing on animals by incorporating them into his past artworks. Hirst has actually killed thousands of butterflies for an exhibition at the Tate Modern and had a tiger shark fished from Australian waters to create his infamous “The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living” (1991).
“It’s an insult to a city of art, of REAL art,” the activists write about the exhibition, which the Punta della Dogana — left unbesmirched — is co-presenting. They add that they plan on staging future protests before the exhibition opens and during its nine-month run.
Formed in 2003, the group, which describes itself as non-political and non-partisan, has previously targeted Cattelan — twice. In 2011, its members protested his installation at the Venice Biennale, which featured 2,000 stuffed pigeons; later that year, they left a sign outside the Milan offices of the design magazine Abitare, which had published an issue with a cover photo by Cattelan of a human about to snip a canary’s wing.
The group’s recent fecal flak for Damien, though, certainly takes the cake for its drama. Watch the action unfold below, set, of course, to the theme song of Pirates of the Caribbean.
Update, 3/15: A member of 100% Animalisti confirmed to Hyperallergic the origin and source of its materials: “The dung came from our oasis of rescued animals, mainly donkeys and horse dung.”
Saudi Arabia Announces $1M “Freedom of Expression” Art Award
Kanye West, Roman Polanski, and Carl Andre are among the shortlisted artists.
British Museum Offers Greece “Exclusive NFT” of the Parthenon Marbles
“With the power of blockchain technology, there will be no question who the real owner is,” said a British Museum spokesperson.
The Public Theater Explores the Hurricane Katrina Diaspora in shadow/land
Written by Erika Dickerson-Despenza and directed by Candis C. Jones, this lyrical meditation on legacy, erotic fugitivity, and self-determination is on view in NYC.
MoMA to Co-Curate Exhibition With NYPD
Arrest Me, Daddy hopes to cast a more positive light on the work of law enforcement officers.
Repatriation-Inspired Fragrance Line Hopes to Heal Collector Wounds
The exotic scents of the Rapatriement line offer solace and joy to dismayed collectors who were forced to return looted artifacts.
The Rubin Museum Presents Death Is Not the End
Tibetan Buddhist and Christian works of art made across 12 centuries explore death, the afterlife, and the desire to continue to exist. On view in NYC.
Mediocre Painting Thought AI-Generated Revealed as Work of Real Artist
Visitors who spoke to Hyperallergic said they were “horrified” to learn that a human could come up with such a banal and poorly executed artwork.
Prince Harry to Star in New Van Gogh Biopic
The estranged prince said he took the role to raise awareness of mental health issues.
When I Am Empty Please Dispose of Me Properly
Ayanna Dozier, Ilana Harris-Babou, Meena Hasan, Lucia Hierro, Catherine Opie, Chuck Ramirez, and Pacifico Silano explore the myths of the American Dream at Brooklyn’s BRIC House.
Newly Discovered Trove of Vermeer Works Reveals He Painted Mainly Dogs
A cache of 243 paintings found in an English castle, all depicting canine subjects, suggests Vermeer’s true aspiration was to become a dog portraitist.
Vatican Partners With Balenciaga on “Spiritual” Menswear Line
A spokesperson for the church cited “shared values” with the fashion brand.
Pratt’s 2023 Fine Arts MFA Thesis Exhibition Is On View in Brooklyn
The two-part exhibition features the work of 41 graduating artists across disciplines, including painting, sculpture, printmaking, and integrated practices.
Iran Issues Fatwa Against AI
A reinterpretation of the Quran through a queer lens, written by an AI chatbot, is said to cause the move.
Met Gala Announces 2023 “Looting and Plunder” Theme
Select A-list guests will be invited to wear any artifacts from the museum’s collection that have not yet been seized by the Manhattan DA’s office.
Who is going to clean it up? You know it’s not Hirst, the curator, or the director of the museum
Try as I might, I don’t understand why such blatant non-art is en vogue. I fault the curator and director of the museum.
Comments are closed.