Venus of Arles waiting for the Ship of Theseus


This is the third edition of Mueo’s Venus of Arles artwork. The first two are not going to be available as non-fungible tokens, and should be considered developmental pieces for the creation of this artwork. 


The critical question that evolves from the above statement asks ‘When is an artwork considered complete?’


The Venus of Arles is a marble statue, perhaps copied from a lost Greek original. Does the loss of the speculated original mean that the Arles version is now considered the original? What happens if the original is rediscovered?


When Venus of Arles was rediscovered in the 17th century, it was 'repaired', replacing a missing arm, and resurfacing the stone. The extent of the resurfacing ended up changing the statue. Examining a cast made of the sculpture before it was 'repaired' has revealed that the 17th century repairer modified the sculpture by slimming it down, changing the breast shape, and by adding and removing elements to make it definitively more Venusian. Is this now considered a 17th century sculpture instead of one from Antiquity? How many changes can be made before it is a different work of art? The paradox of the Ship of Theseus arises. 


As a result, the sculpture isn't definitely from any particular era. Imagine, an artwork was modified by another artist more than 1600 years after being created.


This artwork is Stuart Ward’s contemporary interpretation, using a scan of the Venus of Arles at the Louvre. None of the original sculpture remains except for the name and digital data. Does the genius from the original artwork get imbued into the new piece?


References to Boticelli’s Venus in Florence are intentional.


The video is a 1800×1800 x 18 second seamless loop.


View the artwork NFT on SuperRare