Naked Truth: Damien Hirst’s ‘Verity’
The culmination of two years worth of plotting, planning, toil and craft was hoisted onto the Illfracombe Pier on the North Devon coast of England. Verity, artist provocateur, Damien Hirst’s latest achievement, is an immense bronze sculpture weighing in at more than 25 tons. Looming taller than 20 meters in height, it peers out seaward over the harbor. As described, “Verity is a modern-day allegory for truth and justice.” The piece is of a pregnant woman—her one side, left fleshy—whole. But with the other, Hirst has peeled back her young skin to reveal her every somatic layer and intricate innard including that of her developing child. She stands atop stacks of legal books, her stance sculpted in homage to Degas’s Little Dancer of Fourteen Years. Brandished in one of her hands: a sword, thrust aloft her head. In the other (and kept hidden behind her back), the set askew and unbalanced scales of justice. “Without the perfect equilibrium enacted by the scales, the sword [now] becomes a dangerous instrument of power, rather than justice.” Verity is another example of Hirst’s continuing and considered signature; exploration of the awareness of our preconceived notions of the boundaries that straddle life and death; religion and science; and, at present, justice and power.