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laocoÖn's hyperrealities


The exhibition unfolds as a stroll through a sculpture garden that invites philosophical reflection on the status of the original work of art and its copies. Using the example of the Laocoön, it challenges the way we perceive masterpieces, revealing a hidden network of cultural constructions and biographical ramifications that broaden the field of authenticity of an artwork. The exhibition infiltrates the interstices of the University of Geneva’s plaster cast collection through a minimalist intervention that aims to preserve the beauty of the space and its plaster replicas. It revolves around two videos and a spatialised sound piece, playing with dematerialisation to disrupt curatorial and museographic norms and explore new exhibition formats.


Extract from sound piece:

Copies are gateways to alternative interpretations of an original artwork. They function as historical documents of the original at a particular point in time, whether the original has survived to the present day, or has been lost. Copies translate the original into another medium – be it drawing, printing, casting, photography, or a 3D reproduction. Each of these renditions, created in different historical contexts and locations, enriches the biography of the original with new meanings, narratives, uses and values.

Copies can also challenge our propensity to trust in the inherent originality of the artwork, unlocking ambiguous zones where thoughts can philosophically perambulate. When we look beyond the familiar narrative of the original, new ways of seeing it begin to emerge. This exhibition digs into the intricate network of meanings engendered by Laocoön’s copies, presenting an alternative narrative that confronts our trusting gaze as we gather in front of the sculpture in the Vatican museum. What if what we see is not real, but rather, hyper-real?


Plaster casts collection of the University of Geneva

28 February - 15 May 2024


Related events:

'How It Started vs How It’s Going'

Oliver Laric - Artist Talk

MAMCO, Geneva - 27 February 2024

The exhibition was organised with the assistance of Prof Lorenz E. Baumer (Director of the Plaster cast collection and Professor of Classical Archaeology, University of Geneva).

It has been produced as part of the research project ’The Grey Zone of the Original (From Bifaces to NFT)’ developed in 2022-2024 by the Haute Ecole d’Art et Design (HEAD), Geneva, under the artistic direction of Pierre Leguillon.

Full programme (fr)



Script: Francesca Zappia

Voices: Katrin Kettenacker for the French version, Joanna Peace for the English version

Editing: Mathias Pfund for the French version, Douglas Morland for the English version

Download the text of the audio in English

Download the text of the audio in French



Curating and script: Francesca Zappia

Editing: Douglas Morland




Chapter 1 - Preamble
Chapter 2 - As soon as it was visible, everyone started to draw


Chapter 5 - Laocoön’s simulacra
Chapter 4 - Laocoön in Geneva
Chapter 3 - Reinterpreted Laocoön
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