A Dark Mofo project that will see the British flag immersed in the blood of First Nations peoples from territories colonised by the British empire is being slammed as hypocritical and insensitive.
On Saturday, Dark Mofo announced that they were inviting First Nations people to donate a small amount of blood, facilitated by a medical professional before the festival. Participants must reside in Australia, but can be First Nations people from any country colonised by the British, like Canada, New Zealand, Sudan or Fiji.
The artwork called Union Flag comes from provocative Spanish artist Santiago Sierra. The piece has come under fire because Sierra is a white man, and as such, shouldn’t be speaking on behalf First Nations people.
“We’re pleased to announce the inclusion of Santiago Sierra’s Union Flag in this year’s festival. Sierra’s work is complex, sometimes confronting and much of his work tends to deal with social inequities,” Dark Mofo Creative Director, Leigh Carmichael said.
“He was commissioned to present a new work for Dark Mofo and today’s announcement is the result of almost two years of work between his studio and the festival team.”
On the Instagram post alone, there are hundreds of comments criticising the artwork for its clear lack of First Nations consultation, including comments from musician Kira Puru and rapper/activist Briggs.
“What a way to reveal that there are no First Nations folks in your curatorial/consulting teams,” Kira Puru wrote.
“White people further capitalising on the literal blood of First Nations people. Are you fucking kidding?” She added.
“We already gave enough blood,” Briggs wrote.
Cass Lynch, a writer and proud Wudjari woman, has perfectly summarised why the Union Flag artwork is insensitive in a now viral Instagram post.
“To ask First Nations people to give blood to drench a flag recreates, not critiques, the abhorrent conditions of colonisation,” Lynch wrote.
“What started out as a passive concept that does nothing for truth-telling turns into a hypocritical and extractive exercise that repeats the blood lost in the past. And the blood is very fetishistic; we lost ancestors, current family who were never born, people missing from our lives through displacement and stolen family.
“We lost land, animal relatives, ceremonial places, burial sites. Settler artists of the world: tell your OWN stories. Don’t assume to make art on our behalf, cause it often just reinforces the existing power structure you claim to critique.”
PEDESTRIAN.TV has reached out to Dark Mofo for comment.