Art festival apologises for sick plan to drench UK flag in blood

The director of the Australian Dark Mofo art festival has apologised for commissioning a piece that would have seen the UK’s beloved Union flag drenched in the blood of indigenous people as part of a warped critique of the British Empire.

The sick scheme was drummed up by Spanish artist Santiago Sierra, who defended his plan by insisting “it is against colonialism and a denunciation of the pain and destruction it has caused in history among the population, devastating entire cultures and civilisations.”

In the op-ed, he described the plan as follows: “I proposed ‘Union Flag’ a work that consisted of immersing the flag of Great Britain in as many units of blood as territories colonised by the British Empire (83). 20 countries in America, 10 in Europe, 25 in Africa, 18 in Asia and 10 in Oceania.

“One unit of blood (450 ml) would be donated by one person in each of these 83 countries. The blood was supposed to be mixed in an aluminium bucket, where the Union Flag would be submerged.

“However, it was foreseeable that in some places no extraction could be achieved. In such a case, the country in question and the reason why it was impossible to obtain the sample would be mentioned.”

Dark Mofo had asked for blood donations from “First Nations peoples from countries claimed by the British Empire” but the sick plan was condemned by natives, with indigenous artist Cass Lynch saying: “To ask First Nations people to give blood to drench a flag recreates, not critiques, the abhorrent conditions of colonisation”.

Another said: “How you do not see the hypocrisy in asking First Nations people to donate their blood to a white artist and in the same breath highlighting that this is stolen land is beyond me.”

Apologising for the now cancelled scheme, festival director Leigh Carmichael said: “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.”