Somewhere between lies and truth lies the truth.
Damien Hirst, Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable
When I was in Venice I had the fortune to find myself in Damien Hirst's exhibition ''Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable'' at the Palazzo Grassi and was provided with ample opportunity to reflect on Chaos Magic, its efficacy (or lack thereof) and its absorption by the mainstream.
The whole space is set up like the British Museum and the conceit is that Team Hirst have rescued and restored the antiquities recovered from a sunken wreck - there are numerous films whch show their work in action, exploring a seabed littered with glimmering treasure in the form of golden coins, weapons, ornaments and statuary - shoals of fish swimming by. One of the first things I noticed was how everyone was really into it, they entered that headspace as if they were in a museum studying genuine relics and artefacts and only after a while did people seem to snap out of it and well... get the joke.
Although the reverential air to the sacred past was broken after the first encounter with Mickey and other Disney characters the majority of the exhibition is made up of a selection of statues of deities and mystical figures from around the world - so it is very much like the British Museum. Was it possible to connect with spirit/memory through these artworks or only to admire them aesthetically? It seemed like there was nothing in these statues either apart from great beauty, and although surely noone had conjured spirits into them (Damien...?) it was impossible even to connect with the idea of the spirit through them.
Later in my pathwalking I ended up in the Temple of Zeus in Olympia and the Parthenon in Athens so I had a lot to compare and contrast with the exhibition and although the experience of Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable was spiritually underwhelming it was really very very funny. A lot like Chaos Magic in that respect. Let's hope it doesn't start taking itself too seriously.