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A version of this article was first published by ArtsHub Australia.
Australian music and arts festival Dark Mofo recently announced its first major project for the 2021 festival, including an artwork, “Union Flag” by Spanish artist Santiago Sierra, that called for the use of First Nation’s blood to immerse the British flag. The project drew widespread outcry, including from First Nations artists.
The banner was to be put on display during the festival, but the project has since been canceled because of backlash.
Dark Mofo Creative Director Leigh Carmichael said in a statement on March 23:
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. We made a mistake, and take full responsibility. The project will be canceled. We apologize to all First Nations people for any hurt that has been caused. We are sorry.
In an earlier statement this week, Carmichael acknowledged it was a “logistically difficult project.”
Carmichael continued: “Sierra’s work is complex, sometimes confronting and much of his work tends to deal with social inequities. He was commissioned to present a new work for Dark Mofo and today’s announcement is the result of almost two years of work between his studio and the festival team.”
Artist Santiago Sierra said of the project, “The intent of this project is against colonialism. It is an acknowledgment of the pain and destruction colonialism has caused First Nations peoples, devastating entire cultures and civilizations.”
Response to the call for blood resulted in a flood of negative commentary on social media.
Cass Lynch, a Wirlomin Noongar writer and researcher, added to the commentary in a statement from the National Association for the Visual Arts (NAVA). “To ask First Nations People to give blood to drench a flag recreates, not critiques, the abhorrent conditions of colonization,” Lynch said. “What started out as a passive concept that does nothing for truth-telling turns into a hypocritical and extractive exercise that repeats the blood lost in the past.”
NAVA also urged Dark Mofo to reconsider the decision to program Sierra’s artwork and engage rigorous community and cultural consultation for all future commissioned works.
Visual artist and traditional pakana dancer Jam Graham-Blair described the artwork as “an act of colonization.”
“White people always wanna make art [and] write about us but never wanna give us the resources to tell our own story,” said Graham-Blair.
“Black infants in America are now more than twice as likely to die as white infants—11.3 per 1,000 black babies, compared with 4.9 per 1,000 white babies, according to the most recent government data—a racial disparity that is actually wider than in 1850, 15 years before the end of slavery, when most black women were…
he ownership of images has a long and nuanced legal history, which has evolved dramatically in recent years as cultural standards and photographic technologies have rapidly advanced
The show, which honors the 50th anniversary of an exhibition history once ignored, continues a series of projects documenting Wilmington’s contemporary art scene.
Renty and his daughter Delia. Renty was an enslaved African, kidnapped from the Congo, sold and forced into slave labor on the South Carolina plantation of B.F. Taylor
What is the relation between possessing a person, possessing their image, and dispossessing their progeny
As a scholar of African American history and photography whose work has focused on the status of violent images in museums and archives, I fully support the validity of Ms. Tamara Lanier’s claim and the amicus brief.
Two K-12 art teachers will each receive a $1,000 cash gift and an additional $500 to put toward classroom art supplies. Nominations are due October 31.
The daguerreotypes of Renty Taylor, Delia, Drana, Alfred, Jack, George Fassena, and Jem remained in an unused storage cabinet until 1975, when it was discovered by an employee of the Peabody Museum.
I am writing in support of the amicus curiae brief submitted by Professor Ariella Aïsha Azoulay of Brown University for the full restitution of the daguerreotypes of Renty Taylor and his daughter Delia, currently held by Harvard University, to their familial descendant, Tamara Lanier.
We cannot be indifferent to the long-lasting effects of photography. The photographs at the center of Lanier v. Harvard are relentless in making Renty and Delia Taylor work and perform as slaves. The pain inflicted on them has not ceased. Photography has the capacity to propagate harm, and we have the moral obligation to interrupt…