Austrian artist Hermann Nitsch is slated to bring his ‘150.Action’ show – a “bloody, sacrificial ritual” involving naked performers and a dead bull – to Tasmania’s Museum of Old and New Art in June.
Nitsch first performed the grisly art ritual in Vienna in 1962. Videos of his work show performers scraping entrails from a dead animal before pouring blood over a naked man tied to a wooden cross.
The event is due to take place in a warehouse at Hobart’s Macquarie Point as part of the Dark Mofo festival, but animal rights activists have appealed to Hobart city council to intervene.
Animal Liberation Tasmania says Nitsch’s piece “trivializes the slaughter of animals” and has set up a Change.org petition calling for the event to be cancelled. So far more than 17,000 people have signed the petition.
A curator of the Dark Mofo festival said Nitsch will use meat, fish, fruit as well as blood from a dead animal which was already on the market for slaughter.
“The animal to be used is specifically on the market for slaughter. The carcass will be sourced locally, and the animal will be killed humanely, adhering to Australian standards,” said Dark Mofo Creative Director Leigh Carmichael.
“It is the artist’s intention that the meat be eaten after the event, and we are working through addressing the health and safety regulations to achieve this outcome.”
Carmichael added: “Hermann Nitsch is a highly regarded international artist who has been presenting variations for this work for five decades. We understand that his work will be confronting and difficult, but we will not shy away from presenting work that challenges us to consider the ethical implications of our actions both today, and in the past.”
Gallery owner David Walsh described the piece as “good art”since “it has already spiked a conversation about the appropriateness of slaughter.”
He also appeared to challenge those who think the performance is wrong to “get out there and stop it.”
“But stopping Nitsch won’t stop me doing the sort of self-serving, status-enhancing, biologically bound good that I do. You should be protesting that, too,” he added.