Netflix just released a supposed documentary, Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable, chronicling the story behind Damien Hirst’s two-venue exhibition in Venice last year.
The slickly produced doc was financed by the artist himself and spokesperson from Hirst’s company, Science Ltd, told Artnet News.
“The film is something Damien wanted people to be able to come across in years to come, which explores the backstory of the project.”
But the 90-minute film is as fake as the exhibit it documents. The film says the show was the debut presentation of long-lost treasure discovered by a team of archaeologists and divers off the coast of east Africa. The trove had been assembled during the 1st or 2nd centuries by a former slave turned voracious collector, Cif Amotan II. (It’s an anagram for “I am fiction”).
The film follows a team of researchers as they identify Amotan’s shipwreck beneath the surface of the Indian Ocean, but in order to get the underwater booty, they need a benefactor. Damien Hirst.
The dialogue is delivered with deadpan seriousness, but the mockumentary is full of self-deprecating winks at the audience. Andrew Lerner, a (fictional) professor of Maritime Studies at the University of Aberdeen, says into the camera, referring to Hirst.
“I didn’t know much about him. To me he was… the shark guy.”
Hirst also references his most famous work saying,
“I wasn’t tempted to get a wet suit on because I think the sharks would eat me.”
Directed by Sam Hobkinson, whose previous work includes the 2014 TV movie The Hunt for the Boston Bombers. It is produced by Hirst and Oxford Films, the company behind the recent royal documentary Diana, Our Mother: Her Life and Legacy.
But if the comments section on Netflix is any indication, the film appears to be just as divisive as the exhibition and the artist himself.
“Don’t be fooled—it is not a documentary. I want my 90 minutes back.”
Well, kids, Hirst is a conceptual artist and this is as high-concept/ high production value/ mass-appeal as it gets. Here’s the trailer.
(Photos, Netflix, Science Ltd; via Artnet News)