Memento 5 is a print from Damien Hirst’s Memento series from 2008. The print shows a large blue butterfly with its wings outspread, appearing as though it were on display in a natural history museum cabinet. Hirst’s use of the flattened, black backdrop creates a striking print that synthesises aesthetic and scientific modes of representation.
Heavily inspired by Duchamp and the concept of the ‘ready-made’, much of Hirst’s works in printed editions are mimetic and appear like photographs. Taking images and objects from the everyday and hardly making any alterations, Hirst confronts the viewer with questions around what makes something art? Is an object considered an art object because it sits in a museum?
Depicted in beautifully rich detail, the butterfly in the centre of the composition is stark in its colouring and its mimetic quality. Hirst’s concern with depicting his chosen subject matter in photographic detail stems from his work on ‘fact’ painting beginning in 2000. The artist’s aim with such works was to attempt to reproduce photographs in the traditional medium of oil on canvas. The realistic image of the butterfly plays with Hirst’s concern around facts and truth that photographs are assumed to depict.