On Thursday, the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas welcomed the latest controversy from English artist, Damien Hirst: his first bar, starring a petrified shark, sliced into pieces.
The provocative project is not Hirst’s first shark, and it’s not his first controversy. The bar, Unknown, is Hirst’s second foray into hospitality, the first being a restaurant at his Newport Street Gallery in London, called Pharmacy 2.
Palms Casino Resort owners, Frank and Lorenzo Feritta, who are also art collectors, are reportedly longtime fans of Hirst.
“Frank and Lorenzo have been huge supporters and collected my work for over 15 years. When they bought the Palms Casino they asked me if they could put ‘The Unknown (Explored, Explained, Exploded)’…in the bar. I looked at the plans and loved what they were doing with it,” Hirst told Conde Nast Traveler.
Overseen by Palms executive creative director, Tal Cooperman, Unknown puts the segmented shark on a pedestal–it’s mounted atop the white marble bar, forever screaming into its formaldehyte-filled abyss.
We get that Vegas isn’t the epicenter of progressive thought. But what’s at the heart of the Palms’ new bar is, well, a bit heartless. We suppose those who venture into Unknown will come to terms with the shark’s—and all of our—eternal agony.