Dark Mofo Criticised After Asking For First Nations People’s Blood For Art Project

UPDATE 23/03/21“We Made A Mistake:” Dark Mofo Cancel Art Project Asking For First Nations People’s Blood.

Hobart festival Dark Mofo has been criticised online after organisers released a callout asking First Nations people to donate their blood, as part of a proposed art installation by Spanish artist Santiago Sierra.

A post uploaded to the festival’s social media pages on Saturday, 22nd March featured an image that reads WE WANT YOUR BLOOD. In a caption, organisers say that on behalf of Sierra, they are seeking participants for an artwork called Union Flag that would see the Union Jack “immersed in the blood of its colonised territories” at this year’s iteration of the festival.

“Expressions of interest are now open to First Nations peoples from countries claimed by the British Empire at some point in history, who reside in Australia. Participants will be invited to donate a small amount of blood to the artwork, facilitated by a medical professional before the festival.”


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A post shared by Dark Mofo (@dark_mofo)

Unsurprisingly, organisers have been roundly slammed for the callout. At present, there are over 2,500 comments on the festival’s Instagram post expressing anger at the proposed installation, many acknowledging the colonialist nature of an artist who is not First Nations profiting from the literal blood of First Nations people, and festival organisers for allowing it to go ahead. Yorta Yorta rapper Briggs commented, “We already gave enough blood,” on Instagram.

Musician Kira Puru, who is of Maori descent, also denounced the proposal, writing, “what a way to reveal that there are no First Nations folks in your curatorial/consulting team… white people further capitalising on the literal blood of First Nations people. Are you fucking kidding?”

Yorta Yorta artist DRMNGNOW, who performed at the festival in 2019, shared an open letter to Dark Mofo organisers on Instagram, writing “As a First Nations artist that had performed at your event previously, I find it sickingly disturbing that you would release an Expression of Interest for the acquisition of yet more of our spilt blood. To support a white artist to use our blood in the name of art at that.”


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A post shared by DRMNGNOW (@drmngnow)

On Twitter, Noongar writer and poet Claire G. Coleman wrote, “A coloniser artist intending to produce art with the actual blood of colonised people is abusive, colonising and re-traumatising. The idea is disgusting and terrible and should not have been considered.”

Dark Mofo organisers are yet to publicly respond to the criticisms. The festival was cancelled last year due to uncertainties around the coronavirus pandemic. Last month, organisers revealed that Dark Mofo would return in June of this year, with a lineup set to be announced next month.

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