• The British flag will be drenched in First Nations blood for an art instalment at Tasmania's annual Dark Mofo art festival. (AAP)Source: AAP
A Spanish artist has made a public request for donations of blood, specifically from First Nations people, in order to create the work. Symbolising the violence of colonisation, it has sparked fierce debate online.
By
Bernadette Clarke

Source:
NITV News
22 Mar 2021 - 5:08 PM  UPDATED 22 Mar 2021 - 5:08 PM

An artwork planned for this year's Dark Mofo festival, involving a Union Jack being submerged in the donated blood of First Nations peoples, has been met with a mixed response. 

Spanish artist Santiago Sierra has asked for expressions of interest from First Nations people who come from territories colonised by the British Empire to participate.

The controversial artwork will be titled "Union Jack", and will feature among the festival's art instalments.

Nala Mansell, Campaign Manager at Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre, says she understands the concern expressed by some.

"It's important to acknowledge that this country was invaded by the British, it's important to acknowledge the blood of our ancestors that spilt on the land during the invasion of our lands."

"But we are also are not in support in the call for Aboriginal people to donate blood, I think it's obvious that this is very offensive to Aboriginal people, we've spilt enough blood over the past 200 years and feel we don't need to spill anymore."

As a proud palawa woman, from Lutruwita country Ms Mansell is disappointed that there was no consultation with the Aboriginal community prior to putting the call-out in the public domain.

Many others wholeheartedly disagree with the call-out, like Yorta Yorta Artist Neil Morris, best known as DRMNGNOW.

Back in 2019, DRMNGNOW performed at Dark Mofo where he cut out the Union Jack out of the Australian Flag, to stand in solidarity with First Nations people living on palawa country in Tasmania.

"On a personal level, (being) an Indigenous Artist, having performed previously at this event, I felt very raw in terms of my connection to it, because for me with my art and my music and wherever I share my songs it's really important I come to a place of respect."

"What does make it all the more disturbing, is that it isn't an Indigenous-led project. Even from an artist integrity point I think the fact that it is not led by an Indigenous Artist is wrong."

But the artwork isn't without its backers.

palawa Elder, Rodney Dillon from the Tasmania Regional Aboriginal Community Alliance says he supports the art piece.

Uncle Dillon acknowledged that past atrocities are hard to face for Aboriginal people - but the art piece will hold Britain accountable.

"I think this is bringing up the past and sometimes the past is a little uneasy for some people but people need to remember that a lot of (our people's) blood was spilt..."

"That flag has never held responsibility for the blood it's spilt, I think it's time for them to recognise that and own up to what they've done to our people, and the lies they told, and the destruction and the havoc, the trauma they caused on our families."

NITV News reached out to Dark Mofo for comment, but have not yet received a response.