Damien Hirst’s mammoth, art world-dividing exhibition, Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable is the focus of a new documentary, or rather mockumentary, released on Netflix.
Opening in April 2017 at the 57th Venice Biennale, the exhibition was the first major show of the controversial British artist in Italy since 2004’s The Agony and Ecstacy, and consequently all possible stops were pulled out.
The exhibition marked the first time both Venetian galleries Palazzo Grassi and Punta della Dogana displayed the work of just one artist. Damien Hirst also spent a reported $65 million (supposedly his own money) on the show, and took ten years to create over 100 artworks that represented a fictional marine archeology discovery.
Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable told the fictitious tale of a ship wreck lost 2,000 years ago which contained a global art collection left undiscovered until 2008. This storyline is the focus of the artist’s mockumentary, opening with Damien Hirst eluding to the fabrication of the story saying: “I think what makes you believe in things is not what’s there, it’s about what’s not there,” before showing footage of an expedition group making the first discovery. In need of funding, a group of underwater archeologists approach Damien Hirst following his legendary Sotheby’s auction in 2008 where his works sold for a total of £111 million, and the story continues.
“It’s unbelievable to start with, but that makes you believe it,” says the artist during the mockumentary’s trailer, leaving you unsure whether to believe in the whole thing or not.Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable is now available to watch on Netflix.
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Lucy (she/her) joined It’s Nice That as a staff writer in July 2016 after graduating from Chelsea College of Art. In January 2019 she was made deputy editor and in November 2021, became a senior editor predominantly working on It’s Nice That's partnerships. Feel free to get in contact with Lucy about creative projects for the site or potential partnerships.