NARRATOR: Belief in the unicorn lasted far beyond the Middle Ages. Even in the 16th and 17th centuries, there were accounts of the beast in natural history texts. Ideas about the mythical creature still spark the imagination—and works of contemporary art—such as this example by Damien Hirst.
LARISA GROLLEMOND: The unicorn skull was originally displayed in the 2017 installation of objects that were supposedly from a shipwreck called the “Wreck of the Unbelievable.” The Unbelievable was a ship that had supposedly sank and was full of treasures that had recently been unearthed. The unicorn skull was among a number of other objects that also had to do with mythological creatures; Medusa for example. All of these objects together presented a kind of physical proof of mythical creatures that had been unearthed in the modern day.
NARRATOR: The shimmering gold color of the unicorn skull resonates with the gold backgrounds of medieval manuscript illumination, underscoring the persistence of the unicorn legend across the ages.
LARISA GROLLEMOND: The unicorn skull blurs the line between fact and fiction, and between myth and reality. It presents physical evidence of something you know doesn’t exist, and so it asks the viewer to consider: what are the limits of belief, and is it possible that unicorns still exist?