World news – The First Nations peoples criticize Dark Mofo’s claim for indigenous blood

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UPDATE 23/03/2021: Since its publication, Dark Mofo has officially declared on its Facebook page that the Union Flag project of Santiago Sierra is no longer carried out.

« In the end, the damage caused by the procedure is not worth it, » said Leigh Carmichael of the festival. “We made a mistake and take full responsibility. The project is canceled. We apologize to all First Nations for any injuries. We apologize. « 

A Union Jack flag will be » immersed in the blood of the First Nations people from areas colonized by the British Empire « as part of an art installation for the Dark Mofo 2021 art and music festival in Hobart. </ Aboriginal and other indigenous peoples criticize the Spanish artist behind the concept, Santiago Sierra. The artist urged indigenous peoples to submit their blood for the installation via Dark Mofo's Instagram and Twitter under a photo with red text that reads "We want your blood "to donate.

On behalf of the artist Santiago Sierra, we are looking for people who can participate in Union Flag: a new work of art in which the Union Jack will be immersed in the blood of its colonized areas at Dark Mofo 2021. Read more and register here: https: / /t.co/7pMdB6amJm pic.twitter.com/zMY6vRqNLr

The appeal for donations on Twitter was: “In the name of the artist Santiago Sierra we are looking for Pers Ones who can take part in Union Flag: a new work of art in which the Union Jack is immersed in the blood of its colonized territories at Dark Mofo. For details on the donation, see the post’s Instagram headline: « Participants will be invited to donate a small amount of blood to the artwork, which will be supported by a medical professional prior to the festival. »

Aboriginal, indigenous and others Peoples who experienced colonialism under British imperialism immediately criticized the toneless attitude of the proposed instillation towards colonial trauma. First Nations writer and rapper Briggs commented on the Instagram post, “We’ve already given enough blood.” Kira Puru, another indigenous artist, commented, “What a way to show it’s in yours There are no First Nations curator teams. “

Dear @Dark_Mofothe Kolonie has already taken far too much of our blood. In fact, every drop is already one too many. As a First Nations artist who previously performed at your event, I find it disturbing that you would publish an EOI for our blood. I have no words.

Gunai Gunditjmara activist Meriki Onus tweeted, « We drew enough blood. Perhaps it is time for colonizers to bleed and pay reparations all the money they hoard. » Dutch activist Suus Ferwerda got to the heart of the problem and wrote: “A Spanish artist who, in collaboration with a settler colonial institution, asks about the blood of the Aborigines / Indians, is deaf far beyond the sound. Blood is not a symbol of white saviors and pretends to be up-to-date art that enriches private institutions and their festivals. « 

 » A colonizer who intends to produce art with the actual blood of colonized people is abusive, colonizing, and re-traumatizing, « Noongar writer Claire G. Coleman tweeted. Initially, many people pointed out that Dark Mofo could at least pay indigenous peoples for their blood, considering that it is shown in a for-profit festival and exhibition.

A colonizer artist who intends to produce art with the actual blood of colonized people is abusive, colonizing and re-traumatizing. The idea is disgusting and terrible and shouldn’t have been considered. Please don’t.

As a result of this criticism, Dark Mofo posted a statement on Facebook. The statement was made in recognition of the criticism of the Union Flag project read, but ultimately cited the « human right » to freedom of expression as the reason why the installation of Sierra continued should be set. It’s another deaf-mute answer that shows how Dark Mofo values ​​the creative voice of a non-indigenous artist over the rightly injured voices of thousands of indigenous voices.

This isn’t the first time Sierra’s work has done for his deaf-mute and exploitative approach is criticized. In 2003, he was Spain’s representative at the Venice Biennale and received a lot of criticism for making his art available only to those with Spanish IDs as an alleged comment on how art prioritizes nationalistic pride. Ultimately, his installation continued the very institutionalized xenophobia that she wanted to criticize.

In 2006, his instillation with the title “245 cubic meters” was also referred to as the “gas chamber”. The facility was built in an ex-synagogue and operated by producing deadly levels of carbon monoxide by attaching hoses to the exhaust pipes of six cars. The visitors were then recorded individually for five minutes with a breathing apparatus and accompanied by a firefighter. The work has been widely criticized by the Jewish community for trivializing the Holocaust.

As someone born and raised in Peru who was colonized by Spain, I condemn this use of indigenous blood to water EVERY flag . Dark Mofo and the participating artist Santiago Sierra should be reprimanded in the sharpest possible way. This is highly irresponsible and deeply immoral. https://t.co/zpMfxIlslC

In another 2000 work by Sierra known as the « 160 cm line tattooed on 4 people, » four sex workers were given a shot of heroin to make themselves feel one Line tattooed on the back. The installation allegedly criticized how addiction is both exploited and stigmatized in society.

The common thread that connects the works of Sierra is the devotion to a performative social consciousness. His work can address current social problems and fears. However, Sierra seems unable to understand how his work tends to exacerbate the social trauma he is about to criticize. He also creates his art within and for the institutions that put into practice the trauma that his art allegedly criticizes. This makes his art not so much a criticism as a dark joke at the expense of oppressed and marginalized peoples.

As a descendant of the Wonnarua people, this is the type of art – which aims to capitalize on our ongoing colonial trauma – so deeply upset it’s almost hard to believe they exist. Nearly. Sierra’s latest work, and even more so its acceptance at Dark Mofo Festival, is yet another reminder of how art, artists, and the institutions they operate under are as to blame for exacerbating social trauma as any other institution. Despite all the intentions, art created within, for and by those who benefit from settler-colonial systems naturally cannot exist as a criticism of these systems. At best they are performative and at worst they re-traumatize social capital. Union Flag is clearly the latter.

Merryana Salem (she / she) is a proud Wonnarua and Lebanese-Australian writer, critic, teacher, researcher and podcaster on most social media as @akajustmerry. If you want, check out their GayV Club podcast where they rave about LGBT representatives in the media. In any case, she’s hoping you had something nice to eat today.

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