Dark Mofo cancels Indigenous blood artwork

·2-min read

Controversial Hobart winter festival Dark Mofo has been forced to pull the pin on a project that planned to soak a British flag in the blood of Indigenous people.

Spanish artist Santiago Sierra's Union Flag, announced last weekend as the 2021 event's first major project, sparked backlash from the Aboriginal and wider community.

Sierra asked for Indigenous people to donate their blood to the project as part an anti-colonisation statement.

Indigenous singers, writers and members of Tasmania's Aboriginal community were among those to voice disapproval, forcing a rethink from festival organisers on Tuesday.

"We've heard the community's response to Santiago Sierra's Union Flag. In the end the hurt that will be caused by proceeding isn't worth it," Dark Mofo creative director Leigh Carmichael said in a statement.

"We made a mistake, and take full responsibility. The project will be cancelled.

"We apologise to all First Nations people for any hurt that has been caused. We are sorry."

Nala Mansell from the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre implored the festival to work with Indigenous artists.

"It's an important story that needs to be told. (But) I don't think it was appropriate to call for Aboriginal people to donate blood," she told AAP.

"Enough Aboriginal blood has been spilt over the past 220 years. Now is the time to talk about how Aboriginal people can be compensated for the bloodshed."

Rapper Briggs wrote "we already gave enough blood" on an Instagram post by Hobart's Museum of New and Old Art.

Wirlomin-Noongar writer and poet Claire G. Coleman called the idea "disgusting and terrible".

"A coloniser artist intending to produce art with the actual blood of colonised people is abusive, colonising and re-traumatising," she wrote on Twitter.

Dark Mofo was cancelled last year due to coronavirus but recently revealed it was dropping all sponsorship to pursue a cultural agenda "free from restraint".

Sierra's previous works include tattooing a line across the backs of sex workers.