War & peace: New European exhibitions

Get your fix of quirky culture at a Cold War bunker turned contemporary art space, a Museum of Failure or Damien Hirst's latest exhibition of fictional sunken treasure

By Stephanie Cavagnaro
Published 14 Jun 2017, 09:00 BST, Updated 8 Jul 2021, 15:31 BST

Rejuvenique Electric Facial Mask (left)// Aspect of Katie Ishtar ¥o-landi (right)

Photograph by (left) Sofie Lindberg (right) Prudence Cuming Associate

Top of the flops
Think flunking is a bad thing? Sweden's Museum of Failure doesn't — it celebrates 60 unsuccessful products like the Rejuvenique Electric Facial Mask, Harley-Davidson Perfume and Bic for Her. It opened on 7 June, and will also have events throughout June, including a tasting menu of renowned chefs' failed dishes, and a concert of failed music by pianist Per Tengstrand.

Digging for treasure
Nearly 10 years in the making, Damien Hirst's latest exhibition brings legend to life. On display at the Palazzo Grassi and Punta della Dogana in Venice until 3 December, Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable presents sunken cargo from a fictional shipwreck. The story posits that the collection, belonging to a freed slave, was on its way to a temple dedicated to the sun.

Bunker mentality
Once banished to a bygone era, a $4.6bn (£3.6bn) prodigal bunker completed under Yugoslavian leader Tito's regime has been given an unlikely lease of life as a contemporary art exhibition. Project Biennial D-0 ARK has taken over the 6,500sq ft space in Bosnia and Herzegovina with a polyphonic collection of 125 works. For the fourth Biennial of Contemporary Arts, the art is on display until 21 October this year, with the fifth and final Biennial slated for 2019. The exhibition's relics evoke a Cold War past, and include red telephones, radios and typewriters. Additions this year comprise Italian artist Alfredo Pirri's cracked floor mirrors, and Bulgaria's Luchezar Boyadjiev's Endgame: a stretched chess board that evinces strategic Cold War considerations. Walls, meanwhile, are scrawled with musings like: 'Behold a Cathedral of Fear, built within a Mountain of Power but bigger than it' — a fitting statement for a paranoid time.

If you've missed Bosnia's first four biennials, don't despair — the art, which examines 'control, salvation and escape', is on display in Stuttgart's Württembergischer Kunstverein until 6 August. 

Published in the Jul/Aug 2017 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)


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