Dead Black Utopia is an inkjet, glaze, and foil block print from Damien Hirst’s Utopia series from 2003. The print shows several rows of pills on display in a medical cabinet, rendered in a cropped composition and in high contrast. Using the medical pill as a central motif to this work, Hirst explores themes of life and death in contemporary society throughout the Utopia series.
As with many of Hirst’s most famous works, Dead Black Utopia foregrounds the artist’s preoccupation with the human condition. Disrupting any binary discussion of life and death through the ambivalent symbol of the medical pill, Hirst brings sickness, health, addiction and rehabilitation into dialogue with one another in this series. For Hirst, the display of pills represents a state of mind and the way that the contemporary individual has the ability to control feelings in body and mind through modern medicine.
This print is reminiscent of Hirst’s earliest pill cabinet work The Void from 2000. Notably this print depicts the mirrored back of the cabinet that works to produce a visually complexing and highly aestheticized art object. The Utopia series embodies Hirst’s artistic oeuvre that interrogates the intersections between the scientific and the artistic that are wrongly assumed to be oppositional in contemporary culture.