At yesterday’s press conference in the City Hall in Novi Sad, the grand opening of the exhibition “New Religion” by Damian Hirst has been announced and scheduled for Friday September 2nd from 8 PM in the Museum of Contemporary Art of Vojvodina (MSUV) in Novi Sad. The press was addressed by the curator of “New Religion”, Paul Stolper, as well as representatives of the organizers and institutions which have supported the maintenance of the exhibition in Serbia.
It is an exhibition of one of the most influential, most innovative and most successful artists, winner of the prestigious Turner Prize, whose works will be from the first time presented for the first time be presented to the audience in Serbia from September 2nd till October 14th.
Dalibor Rožić, Member of the City Council for Culture, welcomed the participants: “For us, the moment of this exhibition is very important, because it will certainly affect the quality of the presentation of Novi Sad in the process of candidacy for European Capital of Culture 2021. We are in the final stage of the adoption of the crucial document, ie, the Cultural Development Strategy, which should launch a number of major qualitative changes in the culture of our city.”
Speaking about the “New Religion”, the exhibition curator, Paul Stolper, said: “Damian Hearst and I were personally very pleased that the British Council invited us to exhibit in Novi Sad, and now we find that the Museum of Contemporary Art of Vojvodina was equally interested in this cooperation. I hope the audience will respond in large numbers because it is the only way to form an opinion on the work of this very important global artist.” As stated at the press conference, through this exhibition Hirst wants to launch thinking about religion, love, art and science. According to the artist’s words, these are tools that help us to find our own way in life. Using universal themes, Hirst in its “New Religion” contradicts science and religion, putting them in a special dialogue, the way people usually perceive them.
Director of the Museum of Contemporary Art of Vojvodina, Sanja Kojic Mladenov, pointed out that the presentation of works of Damian Hirst in MSUV is a great honor and a great opportunity for achieving the high museological standards, improvement of knowledge and the development of active international cooperation: “Such circumstances are exceptional for the curatorial practice, and the exhibition” New Religion” is a challenge in the context of the local art system and it provokes innovative responses in the museum profession, as well as the wider community,” said Kojic Mladenov.
The exhibition is designed as a compact unit with 44 graphics and four sculptures that make up the “New Religion”, and they function as a cycle of frescoes – from “Creation of the World” to the “Last Judgment”. These intriguing works surround the altar icon with a cross set with pills in the form of jewels, children’s skull and heart wrapped in barbed wire and pill carved in marble.
These elements form a kind of chapel dedicated to the desire for death under control, desire that at the same time cannot help in dealing with death.
Clare Sears, director of the British Council for the Western Balkans, also addressed the press. She reminded us that this is the exhibition of one of most influential contemporary visual artists in the world. She also shared her experience of studying in London in the nineties, when the whole generation of British accepted Hirst’s art as their own, and not as something that belongs only to the chosen. “Hirst has always been an artist for whom it can be said that has always been democratic – his art has always attracted the largest audience, and his work has driven dialogue and debate. I hope that this will be the case with the exhibition in Novi Sad, “said Sears.
Journalists at the press conference were also addressed by Nebojsa Kuzmanovic PhD, Deputy Secretary for Culture, Public Information and Relations with Religious Communities. Speaking about the importance of Hirst work in MSUV, Kuzmanovic said: “One of those people who soared over the horizon of expectations is wonderful British artist Damian Hirst, who helped us to find the way in the dark with the help of religion, love, art and science in the darkness we find time. Hirst makes a new religion out of art which fills the existential emptiness within us.”
Nemanja Milenkovic, President of the Organizing Committee of Novi Sad 2021, pointed out that a few cities in the region, unlike Novi Sad, can boast that in one year had an exhibition of Dürer, Renaissance genius, performance of pop star Ellie Golding at the EXIT festival, a concert of Stefan Milenkovic, world-renowned violin virtuoso and now an exhibition of Damien Hirst.” These are references to our city, but also an hint to the vision in which we can tickle our imagination and say: If this is like in 2016 when we a candidate, how will it be in 2021 when we become European Capital of Culture?” said Milenkovic.
The exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art of Vojvodina is organized with the support of KPMG. The journalists were addressed by a senior partner in the company, Mr. James Thornley and said that KPMG supported a “New Religion” in Novi Sad, on the occasion of 20 years of work in Serbia. “The greatest success of our participation in this project would be if we inspire other companies to become actively involved in efforts to organize as many important cultural events like this one,” said Thornley.
“New Religion” is the result of cooperation between Damian Hirst and a prominent London art gallerist Paul Stolper in 2005. The premiere was presented in London in the gallery of Paul Stolper, and after London, the exhibition was shown in prestigious museums in Venice, Moscow, Athens, Thessaloniki, Oslo and Gdansk, and most recently in Banja Luka and Skopje. The project is implemented by the British Council in collaboration with the Museum of Contemporary Art of Vojvodina and Paul Stolper gallery. The exhibition is supported by the Ministry of Culture and Information of the Republic of Serbia, Provincial Secretariat for Culture, Public Information and Relations with Religious Communities and the Department of Culture of the City of Novi Sad. The exhibition is organized with the support of KPMG.