In An Open Letter, Artists Call For Cultural Changes At MONA In Wake Of Dark Mofo’s Cancelled ‘Union Flag’ Artwork

4 weeks ago
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Yesterday, organisers of Dark Mofo officially canned Santiago Sierra’s proposed ‘Union Flag’ artwork due to an overwhelmingly negative community response.

The artwork saw the Hobart festival call out for First Nations people to donate their blood which would then be used to soak the Union Jack flag in. This, according to the festival, was to then ensure that the flag would be “immersed in the blood of its colonised territories”.

Dark Mofo’s creator Leigh Carmichael backtracked yesterday, saying in a statement that “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 cancelled. We apologise to all First Nations people for any hurt that has been caused. We are sorry.”

A digital open letter to the festival has been posted to Instagram last night calling for reparations and cultural changes at Hobart’s Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) to be made.

The six-point open letter, launched by Indigenous arts blog muka nita, has called for the festival to formally apologise for previous events that have “negatively affected First Peoples”, including Sierra’s project.

They’ve also called for the staff at MONA, Dark Mofo and sister festival MONA FOMA to undertake mandatory cultural awareness training and decolonisation workshops.

The letter also calls for a First Peoples Advisory Board to be set up to oversee public programs and exhibitions, as well as a Reconciliation Action Plan to be instilled across MONA, MONA FOMA and Dark Mofo.

Lastly, the letter calls for the appointment of First Peoples curators across all programs, and finally, it calls for more funding to be committed to Tasmanian Aboriginal People’s artworks.

“Until these requirements are addressed and fulfilled by the MONA organisations, the signatories of the document will not work with the organisations in any capacity.”

“We hope that MONA, DARK MOFO and MONA FOMA take this opportunity to learn from the past and make a positive step forward to engage with the Australian First Peoples Arts community in the future.”

“We just want respect!”

At the time of writing, there are over 1000 signatories, including Australian artists Kira Puru, Moju, Emily Wurramara, Barka, Alice Skye, L Fresh The Lion and more.

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