'This is not art': Museum's graphic dead animal display sparks outrage

Samuel Hussey
News Reporter

WARNING – GRAPHIC CONTENT: One of Australia’s most renowned museums has come under fire, accused of glamorising “animal torture” with an interactive exhibition that features graphic imagery of a deconstructed rabbit.

Tasmania’s Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) on Tuesday spruiked American contemporary art curator Kirsha Kaechele and her controversial ‘Eat the Problem’ exhibition, which is due to open to the public next month.

Despite mounting public anger, MONA adamantly defended the display, telling Yahoo News the concept of eating “invasive species” is far more sustainable than just killing them off.

“We know it’s not for everyone, but eating or finding other uses for an animal that wreaks havoc on the native environment is more sustainable than simply culling them, and far more sustainable than the meat most people eat,” the spokesperson said.

“It is interesting that chicken nuggets – the embodiment of animal suffering and environmental degradation – appear on billboards across cities and no one makes a fuss.”

Mona’s ‘Eat the Problem’ display has received mixed feedback weeks before it’s due to open to the public. Source: Instagram/Mona

The exhibition, which features a cook book as well as musical and spiritual elements, boasts the creation of delicious feasts through “impossibly sumptuous courses of invasive species”, including the likes of sweet and sour cane-toad legs, fox curry and the dead rabbit pictured above.

MONA images censored by Instagram

But when MONA took to Instagram to promote the display, their followers lashed out, questioning why they would enable such graphic imagery at a venue commonly frequented by children.

“What the hell is this? Stop exploiting animals, live in line with your morals, go vegan,” one woman commented.

“Not art, not ethical, just gimmicky and sensational for the sake of it,” another wrote.

“So you think this is art? No, it’s a dead rabbit ripped into pieces.”

Instagram even took the step of censoring the image, warning users of the graphic content.


Others defended the display, applauding the concept for properly utilising such problematic species.

“I think it’s art! People are so far withdrawn from their food source that I think they sometimes forget where it comes from,” one woman wrote in a rebuttal.

“It’s an important reminder not to take what you eat for granted.”

“Who the f*** made this sensitive content? Do you go to the grocery store and turn your eyes away from the meat cabinet?” another commented.

‘Diners may lose control of their bowels’

Hobart’s Museum of Old and New Art is set to play host to the exhibition next month. Source: AAP

Each one of the immersive feasts are set to take place on the world’s largest glockenspiel, where MONA says a subsonic musical note may cause diners to lose control of their bowels.

When the exhibition opens on April 13, guest musicians will play the “monumental” instrument in a way that match the colour spectrum of the meals.

“The dishes will progress from white to black through the entire colour spectrum, including an uplifting yellow course and a peace­ inducing purple course and a terrifying red course,” the spokesperson added.

“During the brown course, visitors may experience the effects of the ‘brown note’.”

“Eat the Problem brings to life the practice of transforming s**t into gold through a
delightfully experimental and confronting, but outrageously glamorous, feast for the senses,” Kaechele added.

‘Good for business’: Millionaire founder applauds controversy

MONA came under fire in 2017 for their performance by controversial ‘actionist’ Hermann Nitsch. Source: Facebook/Mona

It’s not the first time the museum’s millionaire founder David Walsh has been entangled with controversy surrounding dead animals. 

In 2017, Mr Walsh downplayed the outrage surrounding a performance involving a dead cow as part of the city’s Dark Mofo Festival.

Despite tens of thousands protestors signing a petition to cancel the performance, the three-hour-long “bloody, sacrificial ritual” that contained “distressing imagery, nudity and strong adult themes” went ahead as planned.

Performers were stripped naked and bound to wooden crosses, some were doused with blood and milk in a gory display.

Mr Walsh responded to the controversy by saying the outrage is good for business, adding that the public’s morbid fascination with “disaster tourism” is a benefit to the economy.

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