The British flag will be immersed in the blood of First Nations people in an artwork to be displayed at Hobart’s Dark Mofo winter festival.
The provocative piece by Spanish artist Santiago Sierra was on Saturday announced as the 2021 event’s first major project.
“The First Nations people of Australia suffered enormously and brutally from British colonialism,” Sierra said in an open letter.
“Nowhere more so than in Tasmania where the Black War in the early nineteenth century had a devastating impact, almost killing the entire Tasmanian Aboriginal population – an act that has since been defined as genocide.”
First Nations people from countries and territories colonised by the British Empire who are currently living in Australia can donate their blood to the project.
Sierra has opened an expression of interest. One donor representing each country will be selected at random.
“The intent of this project is against colonialism,” he said.
“It is an acknowledgement of the pain and destruction colonialism has caused First Nations peoples, devastating entire cultures and civilisations.”
Blood donations no larger than the standard amount (470ml) will be taken by medical professionals and stored at a laboratory until the festival.
Sierra’s notable works involved paying a man to live behind a brick wall for 15 days and blocking the entrance of London’s renowned Lisson Gallery with metal on his opening night.
After being cancelled last year due to coronavirus, Dark Mofo recently revealed it was dropping all sponsorship to pursue a cultural agenda “free from restraint”.
“Sierra’s work is complex, sometimes confronting and much of his work tends to deal with social inequities,” creative director Leigh Carmichael said.
“It’s a logistically difficult project and we are working diligently to ensure we are able to realise the work for the upcoming festival.
“This call out to First Nations peoples from countries claimed by the British Empire at some point in history to participate is the first public phase of the project.
“We hope to receive interest from as many people across Australia as possible.”
Expressions of interest for blood donors closes on April 23.
Dark Mofo, which runs from June 16-22, has previously courted controversy by installing inverted red Christian crosses at the Hobart waterfront.