Kira Puru, Alice Skye and more call for change at Mona in wake of Dark Mofo’s cancelled ‘Union Flag’ artwork

“We just want respect!”

Kira Puru, Alice Skye and Emily Wurramara are among the signatories of a digital open letter seeking action in the wake of Dark Mofo’s controversial Union Flag art proposal.

Over the weekend, the Tasmanian festival requested that First Nations individuals donate blood to be used in the aforementioned artwork.

Artist Santiago Sierra planned to immerse the titular flag in the blood and display it at Dark Mofo, the winter festival organised by Hobart’s Museum of Old and New Art (MONA).

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The project was met with criticism from members of First Nations communities.

“We already gave enough blood,” Briggs wrote on Instagram.

“White people further capitalising on the literal blood of First Nations people. Are you fucking kidding?” added Kira Puru.

Yesterday (March 23), the festival’s creative director Leigh Carmichael announced that the project would be cancelled following the backlash.

“In the end the hurt that will be caused by proceeding isn’t worth it. We made a mistake, and take full responsibility,” Carmichael wrote.

“The project will be cancelled. We apologise to all First Nations people for any hurt that has been caused. We are sorry.”

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Last night, Indigenous arts blog muka nita launched a six-point open letter, urging the museum and festival organisers to take action in the wake of the proposal.

The open letter asked the festival to formally apologise for “past events that have negatively affected First Peoples”, name-checking the Union Flag project, among others.

muka nita also requested that staff at Dark Mofo, as well as at MONA and sister festival MONA FOMA, undertake mandatory cultural awareness training and decolonisation workshops.

The letter appealed for a First Peoples Advisory Board to be set up as well, and for a Reconciliation Action Plan to be developed.

Finally, the letter called for the appointment of First Peoples curators at DARK MOFO, MONA FOMA and MONA and asked organisers to commit to more funding for 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,” the statement read.

“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 time of writing, the letter had been digitally signed by more than 1,000 individuals, including musicians Emily Wurramara, Kira Puru, Barkaa, Alice Skye and L-Fresh The Lion. Writer Clementine Ford and artist Tony Albert have also put their names to the letter.

Yesterday, MONA’s founder David Walsh apologised for the proposed artwork. Walsh admitted he approved of the work “without much thought”, conceding that he “didn’t see the deeper consequences of this proposition”.

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