Rising tide

David Walsh | Posted on April 19, 2017

You have just dined, and however scrupulously the slaughterhouse is concealed in the graceful distance of miles, there is complicity.
—Ralph Waldo Emerson

If we're not supposed to eat animals ... how come they're made out of meat?

It's harder to get a steak 'round here than it is to get Christ off the cross.
—My father, apropos of nothing.

Here's a hypothetical in the style of Geoffrey Robertson:

Imagine I, David Walsh, go down into the gallery, kill someone at random, and call it art. A lovely ironic way to do this would be to put the suicide machine on display, but make it work. My defence would be: it's a work of art—a lesson in the complex consequences of immorality.

What would happen to the Tasmanian economy? My guess is Mona would go from being well known globally to being a household word. Disaster tourism would drive Mona to the top of the charts, and Tasmania's economy would go along for the ride. I'd see the spectacular increase in dark tourism from my prison cell, of course. And, as they dragged me away, you would probably hear me shouting something about the greater good. Mona might end up being supported by the same sort of people that go on the huge number of competing Jack the Ripper tours—given Mona's much vaunted sex and death theme (I wish I never said that) the prurient interest would be vast.

Prior to Mona opening the biggest tourism destination in Tassie was Port Arthur—an elegantly ruined convict settlement, but also the site of a massacre. I was invited to talk to people involved with Port Arthur about potential commonalities between Port Arthur and the forth-coming Mona. I guess they were thinking about cross promotion. I started with, ‘I've been racking my brain trying to think of things that Port Arthur and Mona have in common. All I can think of is that we are both interested in death—but we are opposed to it, and you seem to be in favour of it’. I had momentarily forgotten about the massacre, so I awaited a polite chuckle. It never came.

But if the extreme form of consequentialism had merit (if ends really justified means), Martin Bryant, the perpetrator of that heinous deed at Port Arthur, would be labelled a hero. The Port Arthur Massacre changed the political climate regarding gun control, and it enabled John Howard to spend half-a-billion dollars buying back some types of guns. The result: there have been no mass shootings since Port Arthur, the decrease in the homicide rate has accelerated but, most particularly, gun-related suicide rates have plummeted with no commensurate increase in suicides by other means. The Port Arthur Massacre has saved hundreds of lives.

So why do we know that my little scheme is reprehensible, and the Port Arthur Massacre despicable? There's a clever thought experiment in psychology: the trolley problem. Wikipedia describes it thus:

There is a runaway trolley barrelling down the railway tracks. Ahead, on the tracks, there are five people tied up and unable to move. The trolley is headed straight for them. You are standing some distance off in the train yard, next to a lever. If you pull this lever, the trolley will switch to a different set of tracks. However, you notice that there is one person on the side track. You have two options:

1. Do nothing, and the trolley kills the five people on the main track.
2. Pull the lever, diverting the trolley onto the side track where it will kill one person.

Which is the most ethical choice?

When faced with this dilemma, most people pull the lever. They kill one to save five. So the ends justify the means? Not so fast. When the experiment is slightly altered, so that one has to push a fat man onto the tracks to stop the trolley, very few will do it. If it isn't clear to you why, consider this: here's a healthy guy, but his organs will help save five people who are dying. Do you sacrifice him? It is, apparently, only moral to kill one to save five when the action is an indirect consequence of the intervention. This is a key component of how Hitler got Auschwitz done in the first place. This 'banal evil' was a side effect for almost all concerned. Only those who released the gas were directly acting and, of course, that action was just a side effect of them doing their jobs.

Recently, there has been a rising tide of opposition to a Hermann Nitsch project planned for Dark Mofo. He uses a bull marked for slaughter to ritualistically cover a bunch of people in blood. Here's a video of one such performance. I expect the tide to keep rising.

These performances are pretty gory, and superficially (perhaps at every level) pointless. These performances have their genesis in the sixties—Nitsch is Austrian and, unlike Germany, Austria had assumed no culpability in its part of the Axis atrocities of WWII. There are also not-so-subtle references to the psychological posturing and sacramental rituals of The Church. The Catholics have this great play wherein they turn wine and bread into the blood and body of Jesus (this, they insist, isn't ritualistic). They then eat it under the watchful gaze of their crucified messiah—and that crucifixion is another ritual that is periodically re-enacted. In the history of the Abrahamic religions, Abraham himself is willing to sacrifice his son. Nitsch's bull (like Jesus) gets no such reprieve—even if the protestors have their way, it will end up in burgers or cat food (maybe the protestors, if successful in their endeavour, should pay for this beast to spend the term of its natural life indulging its vegan habits—would they be happy if we agreed to spare two animals in return for this bull being Nitsched? Such is the sanctimonious calculus of moral equivalence).

Yvette Watt, Tasmanian local and, I later found out, a 'noted vegan crusader', expressed her opinion on Facebook that it was not good art. For my purposes, it is good art. I believe that it has already spiked a conversation (thank you, Yvette) about the appropriateness of slaughter and Dark Mofo hasn't even happened yet. That isn't what the artist intends, but Mona has a history of repurposing art to serve its own psychological or political purpose. And anyway, Yvette Watt would oppose it even if she thought it was good art. She is opposed to the ritualistic killing of animals per se—on another occasion she said, ‘On an ethical basis, I don’t think any animal should have to die or suffer in the name of art’. That's a more than reasonable position, and there is not a trace of hypocrisy about her. She opposes the slaughter of animals both directly (as an art performance), and as a side effect (for the generation of meat).

If you don't think the side-effect argument has merit consider this. We have a work at Mona by Jannis Kounellis (see this blog post). When whim pervades, we hang chunks of meat from hooks. Nobody cares. The only reason I can think of as to why that is okay, but Nitsch's meat isn't, is that Kounellis’ meat is killed for food and repurposed (side-effect), whereas Nitsch's is killed for performance and later eaten (the side-effect is the only 'legitimate' purpose). I hate that Nitsch insists on eating the meat. I want clarity of intent—I want the audience to ponder why meat for food is okay (at least people aren't protesting at Mona's barbecue) but meat for ritual or entertainment isn't.

Under the legal regimes of all the countries in the world, it is legal to eat meat. Once Nitsch has made the choice to eat meat, a choice he apparently has the right to make, he has already decided (perhaps inadvertently) that killing is moral, so for him, depriving the life of one more beast has no bearing on his morality. Unless you think you have the right to impose your choices on others beyond the law (think bombing abortion centres) you probably, de facto, agree with him. But bombing abortion centres is a direct action, like killing the fat man, so most people find it an appalling strategy. You might argue that eating meat is part of our biological basis, so it can't be immoral. Well, half a billion people don't eat meat, so it isn't necessary to eat meat. And, as I've argued in On the Origin of Art, art is also a biological necessity. In my opinion, people consume meat because they like it, and they consume art because they like it. When art (even accidentally) makes explicit what eating meat entails (slaughter, pain, blood, guts) they don't like it. Of course, that's an ends-justifies-means argument, a fat-man-on-the-track argument, so it doesn't buy any social currency.

All that verbiage and I still don't know whether Nitsch's performance is justified. I can argue that it does good by creating awareness of moral hypocrisy (highlighting the slaughter of millions of beasts a year for unneeded food) but it is hard to find a way that avoids it being categorised as a direct action, and humans generally think doing good by doing bad is wrong. But our biology is generated by evolution, and the survival-of-the-fittest mechanism doesn't maximise morality. When people are faced with the trolley problem they will routinely sacrifice one to save five. Unless that one is kin, or a sexual partner.That moral spasticity is a lot less concerning to me than this one: I learned as a Catholic boy about 'sins of omission'—for example, recounting a story but leaving out the important, self-incriminating bit. Murder is a sin of commission, but not saving someone when you can is a sin of omission. Some early Catholic theologians contended that these two categories of 'sin' held equivalent culpability. My Catholicism has long since collapsed but I see merit in the argument.

In The Most Good You Can Do, Peter Singer argues that working in rapacious Wall Street jobs (rather than being, say, a doctor in the third world) is eminently moral, because it maximises capacity to spend resources helping others.

Constructing and operating Mona has, so far, cost me around $300,000,000. The economic benefit to Hobart has been enormous, and although I didn't intend it I am often lauded for my contribution. Singer, and others, point out that mosquito nets cost around $10 (by the time they are transported to a place where they are useful) and about one time in 500 they save a life by preventing a fatal bout of malaria. So, the calculus is simple—saving a life costs about 500*10 or $5,000. Had I spent my money that efficiently, instead of building Mona, I could have saved 60,000 lives. Of course, doing that might have left Hobart in the economic doldrums. A man on the street the other day described me as a 'saint'. Little he knew. Somewhere, on that same street, another man might have been shipping all of his excess resources off to anonymously save lives (and those resources might come from honourable employment—not Wall Street nor the Japan tote). His sanctity is undeniable, but invisible.

Let's talk about you, now. I don't know you, but you may have made some great lifestyle choices. The chances are, if you're reading this blog, you are self-aware, have a social conscience, and consider yourself a bit of a lefty. But you also earn far more, and consume far more, than your average fellow human. The average global income is about $20,000 (massively skewed by rich fuckers like me—about a billion people subsist on less than a dollar a day). You probably drive a modest car (a hybrid). If you caught buses instead you could save around six lives with the money you spent on that wholesome transport. But, let's face it, you would have to get up half an hour earlier. 'What can you do? Only so much' (remember that Christian Television Association ad?).

So here's my advice to you. If Nitsch's performance is wrong (and I've been unable to find anything but moral equivalence arguments to suggest that it might be ok), get out there and stop it. It won't be a disaster for Tassie, since it'll just generate a few headlines and a bunch of Facebook discussion. But stopping Nitsch won't stop me doing the sort of self-serving, status-enhancing, biologically-bound good that I do through Mona. You should be protesting that, too. And you also should have a crack at getting your own 'house in order' (as the Bible says). You should, of course, stop eating meat, and rapacious crops, and you should stop doing anything that has cost (economic, social or environmental). And you should take all the cash you squander and spend it buying mosquito nets, or some other efficient life-saving interventions. For, as the Bible also says, 'why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?'

Your life is no longer yours. Having being released from the ties of religion, and the indentured servitude of social expectation, you are now bound by the strictures of ethical philanthropy. And also by the ineluctable need to undermine a performance that changes very little beyond expediting the unjust demise of a beast, and luring you into reading this sentence, and those before it.

P.S. Among her Facebook posts Yvette Watt made this offer:

I have a proposal for you and [Mona curator] Jarrod [Rawlins]. (I will email Jarrod.) As an artist whose own work does tackle the issue of animal death at human hands for meat I would like to meet the bull that will be slaughtered, and would like Hermann Nitsch to come with me. I would like to film this meeting. I would like to be able to at the very least recognise this animal and his individuality prior to his death, and ask that Hermann does the same. He is on record as saying he is an animal protector and from his point of view 'factory farming is the biggest crime in our society'. I would still vastly prefer that the bull is not killed for the event. But rather than simply insulting Hermann I'd like to engage with him.

I acceded to her request. It seemed honourable, and it would, at the very least, improve the quality of debate. However, Jarrod wasn't contacted, and the Facebook exchange was removed. It seems Yvette has changed her mind, as is her right, of course. But having set us on the path to enable her request, one wonders why this crusader for justice didn't contact us to inform us of her revised strategy? She thinks the bull is worth engaging as an individual. Is Hermann? Am I? So now I have a proposition. If you succeed in having the event cancelled, will you meet the bull with me anyway, and film its demise? Or, at least, acknowledge that its death was foreordained, not because of me, nor Hermann Nitsch, and not because of an iniquitous system, but because of the sanitisation of that system? I'm planning to aid and abet the murder of this animal. Is it possible that those who oppose this performance are aiding and abetting the iniquitous system, by concealing one more slaughter? Throughout this blog, and my adult life, I've not been able to find an answer to these questions, as this blog acknowledges. I expect more than the usual number of responses to this tirade. I do hope I learn something.

P.P.S. It won't save taxpayers any money if Nitsch's performance is cancelled (unless the whole of Dark Mofo is scrapped). I kick in about $750,000, so it'll just give me a better bottom line. I could donate the returned funds to an ethical charity, but that eliminates all moral ambiguity. If I was sufficiently bloody-minded, I would suggest that I make that donation only if the event goes ahead. But I'm not that much of a 'physiopath' (as one commenter just called me).

1An earlier version used Auschwitz as an example of disaster tourism. That unsurprisingly upset people, and I'm sorry. It was a thoughtless error, both because it gave needless offence, and it is clearly not an example of disaster tourism. In an earlier version I had this reference to Jack the Ripper, and I thoughtlessly changed it to give it more punch. The punch was to my glass jaw. Again, apologies.

2 http://psycnet.apa.org/journals/ebs/4/3/115.pdf

Read Dark Mofo's latest release on 150.Action


Blog Home


Show all responses

winky420 | April 19, 2017 at 08:32 pm

Marked for slaughter and then would have been consumed as food. Now slaughtered and its entrails smeared around for an artistic wank fest. See the difference.

Justy Phillips | April 19, 2017 at 08:38 pm

'I acceded to her request. It seemed honourable, and it would, at the very least, improve the quality of debate.' Dear David, this is an interesting and at times enlightening read, such a shame then that your moment of honour in responding to Tasmanian artist, Yvette Watt appears to be so fleeting. Perhaps Yvette was otherwise engaged today. Perhaps she was washing her hair? Maybe she intends still to contact Jarrod Rawlins, or maybe not but I can't see the merit in lashing out at one individual who dares to speak out against something she believes to be morally wrong. Yvette is a respected artist, teacher and activist. She's also a friend. You can of course do what you want with your money – donate it, buy art with it, support the local economy or use it to save the lives of strangers, but you don't need to use the power it affords you to bring good people down. I won't be there for Nitsch's pointless spectacle. Not my cup of tea.

Rosmyn | April 19, 2017 at 08:42 pm

Wow, I'm torn. Thank you for sharing your point of view. I've signed the petition however now I'm wondering why have I been to hasty?

LC | April 19, 2017 at 08:54 pm

Fuck, that was a lot of words, where' the bacon?

Yvette Watt | April 19, 2017 at 09:14 pm

David, I’m pleased to see that our Facebook correspondence has been so thought provoking. It has certainly has me thinking. To be clear, I didn't remove the post, I simply made it private, rather than public (you’re not my Facebook friend so you can no longer see it). My reason for doing so was that I was concerned when I saw that the media were quoting you from your posts there, that you may not be comfortable with this. I also didn’t feel like dealing with the trolls that were likely to start commenting on the post, and wondered at the wisdom of having the original post there (which you would recall was a rather basic cussing insult of Hermann Nitsch).

And you’re right, I should have emailed Jarrod by now. The truth is I was in Melbourne over the Easter weekend having fun and then got back very sleep deprived to a work backlog. Today was lost in work and dealing with unexpected media attention and emails from various people in response to it that started last night when the Mercury called me at 8pm. There is nothing in what I have said in the media that should have surprised you given our conversation on Facebook.

You see, I do care about these things, but I also have a life that includes a demanding job (and also includes having fun). My offer stands and I will email Jarrod. I will consider your counter offer, but as you know I did not suggest filming the bull’s slaughter with Nitsch – I simply suggested we meet the animal that would die for his work. I won’t lie – I am not sure I can watch this animal die. But as an artist, an activist, and an academic whose work is very much concerned with these issues I am open to thinking through the possibilities all of this offers. Lets keep the conversation going.

Adam | April 19, 2017 at 09:15 pm

Red blood raises emotions, it’s colour psychology. In Tassie our elected representatives & public servants kill countless thousands of animals with 1080 (Sodium fluoroacetate) poison. Out of sight, no blood and silent. Roman despot namesake & wife of moral crusader Fred Nile, Silvana Nero, ran for a Tassie senate spot with a primary public agenda of shutting down MONA on the grounds it was "immoral" and a threat to "common decency". Conspiracy websites are awash with tales of some MONA sanctioned artists engaging in cannibalism & worse. Ms Nero and her ilk of morally superior, socially upright, divinely inspired betters of ours would dearly love to see Mr Walsh & his band of artists subjected to an eternity of fire & brimstone, the sooner the better. At the same time these same chosen people will slake their thirst with the blood of Christ, eat of his flesh, and Mr Walsh is the weirdo?

AJ | April 19, 2017 at 09:20 pm


It appears the wild world of social media and hasty responses to jump on the pitchfork bandwagon has worked in your favour. Your online performance has jumped a little bit, and you're now trending on Facebook.

I look forward to this years event.

Damien Taylor | April 19, 2017 at 09:20 pm

Well put. I think people fear what they don't understand and many fear too much. We live in times of dull repetitious information, argument and sentimentality. We are too often been force fed stimulus through the guidance of self righteous politicians and self proclaimed professionals. Better to inspire our individual perspective on the human nature, to the darker more confronting instincts that got our species beyond the stone age and onto the crest of the food chain.

Kathy Gates | April 19, 2017 at 09:26 pm

Why a bull and not a cow?

Alistair Ripper | April 19, 2017 at 09:26 pm

I'm for the artist

Angela | April 19, 2017 at 09:26 pm

So you're kind of saying 'do nothing' which most of us will probably do anyway.... the whole thing's just depressing really

Tasha | April 19, 2017 at 09:29 pm

I suggest that it's the blood, more than the meat, which differentiates this piece from Jannis Kounellis' work. People tend to have visceral reactions to blood (trust me, I take my steak blue, with a side of sarcasm).

Blood belongs to the living. Blood flow signifies dying, which is different from being dead. Blood shows us that this beast is like us, in a way that is removed once it's packaged and sold as food.

The concept definitely makes me wonder why I'm fine with carnivorism, but 'put off' (and a little intigued) at the thought of slaughter for pleasure's (art's) sake.

Adam | April 19, 2017 at 09:35 pm

Thank you for the blog piece listed above David.
I would also like to thank you for helping Tasmania get back on track with your dream of setting up Mona.
I am personally (and all my family) are proud to be living back in Hobart from nearly a decade away in the Northern Territory...Mona saved Tassie while we were away...things didn't look good at all.
I suppose a question would be...imagine if Mona didn't exist...no thanks :)
Dark Mofo is a spectacular event and helps, maintains-increase people's serotonin through winter (sad weather)...it's something to look forward to...winter is tough for a lot of people and your spectacular event helps the world come together.
From your Facebook feed, I believe art is art and I also believe that art can also be dark.
For me, I was bought up on ferreting and fishing and understand what needs to happen for some foods to be produced for the table. I also believe it's good for children (of mature age) to have an understanding of what happens when this is required so a respect is formed from living, catching, killing then consuming.

As I have been saying this for nearly 15 years...Imagine if we...
*Take all the buildings and infrastructure away
*Take our jobs away
*Take our clothes away
What would happen?

1. We would need shelter
2. We would need safety
3. We would need water
4. We would need food
We would need to survive...

What would be around us to survive on?
That depends on the location, climate etc.

A survival network somewhere in their is meat...to find this out...go out into the remote wilderness for a week and see what happens...take nothing with you...

As you know, every one has a choice to what they consume the thing that is missing from this choice is respect...respect for how the food is produced, respect for how we consume our food.
For me having a killing of an animal on show (to say yeah, we saw that) will bring a lot of people to the event and get people talking which is great for business...but for the main element of respect - this will be dishonored and my 3 young children, wife and I won't be attending this part of the event.

At the end of the day (in a nut shell), this is your event, it's bluddy hard to keep everyone happy and your heart will tell you if it's the right thing to do or not.

Thank you for reading and good luck!

Kind regards


Maria Kunda | April 19, 2017 at 09:35 pm

I don’t mind a barbie, and so I won’t be signing an animal rights petition: that would indeed be hypocritical; I am also resistant to the banning or censorship of art events. I won’t be going to see Nitsch because I think that as an idea and as a spectacle, his animal sacrifices and bloody entrail performances have been done to death. Nitsch-schlock-shtick: not confronting, not even surprising. The ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTIETH? For three hours? Deadly boring. Spare me; spare the bull. The moment when such a work was avant-garde is long... dead. Hermann Nitsch might have a more interesting time, and reinvigorate his practice, if he came to Tasmania, talked to a bull or two with Yvette Watt, and came back in duck shooting season to perform in pink camo and a tutu. It would make international headlines; it would confuse the Lord Mayor of Hobart. As well as all the other good things people have said, our friend and esteemed colleague Dr. Watt is a bonne vivante and seriously, seriously good cook.

Eza | April 19, 2017 at 09:37 pm

People are so narrow minded to see the bigger picture sometimes.
I believe you have made a successful argument and Tasmania should open its eyes as mona shows us hard truths in different, unique ways. I look forward to the display.

callum | April 19, 2017 at 09:43 pm

Very well written and some great thoughts, but I have to disagree. Not because what you are saying doesn't have merit, but because ultimately every single person is responsible for their own choices.
I doubt the father who had his child shot down at gunpoint would consider the events at port Arthur worthy of his childs life in the long term, nor would he hail the shooter as a hero. The true hero would be John Howard, with his swift response to make sure these things never happen again. Martin Bryant was just another killer, incapable of the moral fortitude that compassion represents within our world. If you kill the steer, you are no hero, and the greater good will come from those with the compassion to fight against those that kill.
You can sell it however you want David, but you could easily take the animal to brightside rather than slaughter it, and we both know that would make more of a statement in the meat/life debate than to follow through with your idea. A great deal of the world might watch this spectacle, you can do better than to show them that this animal is just another beast to be used for the consumption of the human ego.
I put these questions to you David.
Why do you think you have the right to use another life as a display in morals?
And, if you must make a statement about life and death, then why chose a life that is resistant to participate in this sacrifice?
Now I have a question for Herman.
Since you would like to make a display of death, and there is only one life you own, why don't you show some true courage and instead of taking a life that is unwilling to participate in your "art", why not use your own life?
If the answer is that you want to live, then I call you a hypocrite and a fraud.
After all, art is a creative display of an individuals mind. What you are doing is not art I am afraid, because you have involved unwilling participants, and deprived them of their own unique display of creativity.
Dress it as you like, what you are doing is wrong.

Lorraine Clark | April 19, 2017 at 09:48 pm


Liz | April 19, 2017 at 09:58 pm

I have been to Dark Mofo for the past two years, i travel to Hobart which feels more like home to me than Melbourne, what interested in Mofo the most is as I am born on the 21st of June (the beginning of Winter Solstice) i appareciate all you that you have done for the artistic culture of Hobart and i sincerely hope that this exibition doesn't destroy all the amazing work that you have done and that Dark Mofo continues every year as I intend to visit for every festival. Some people are narrow minded when it comes to what art is, my belief is that art is what we as individuals perceieve it to be. Death is a natural part of life and all things related to life can be percieved as artistic if we have an open mind.

Kerry Gunn | April 19, 2017 at 10:01 pm

It's very confronting I agree, it goes against everything that we are taught. Be kind to animals, killing is wrong etc etc But I have to say if you have ever had a steak or a burger, really how do you think it got there? This latest installation whilst not really my cup of tea, and I do eat meat by the way, will definitely get people to think about where their meat comes from. Already it has sparked outrage, but you must have known that would happen right? Fair play to you, and well done for not bowing down to the mindless and some pretty hurtful comments that I have read on FB. Been thinking of becoming a vegetarian anyhow meat is so bloody expensive (get it?) wow I astound myself with my wit sometimes 🙊 But bacon though?! Maybe I could be a vegetarian that eats bacon 😂

Phil Patterson | April 19, 2017 at 10:03 pm

I speculate that - whatever happens - we're all going to continue living our comfortable lives (although I don't speak for those who will come after).

Ester Gros | April 19, 2017 at 10:06 pm

Hello? I am already vegetarian so I think I can say I don't want this animal slaughtered . I am not a hypocrite. I choose not to eat meat and I don't stop others from eating meat but is this necessary? I think most people know their position about animal rights/eating meat without this display. I did visit MONA once and it is not my bag. It is now my choice to not attend or take my family. I did not need to go to the museum to know there are cruel, twisted sickos out there. Yes you have brought money to the state but just because you have money doesn't mean we need this foistered upon us. Are you going to set up a pedophile ring to see who protests it is wrong? Are you going to chop up your pet dog because other people eat them around the world? No and no! Oh why dont we do our own survivor/ big brother reality show and give the people no food to see them kill and eat one another without tools, implements or cooking items? I am sorry that I have commented because this is exactly what you want and I don't think you deserve my opinion or thoughts.

Zooropa | April 19, 2017 at 10:09 pm

Dear evolution, thank you for a brain that allows me to view and (individually) interpret the world and make decisions based on love and compassion for all beings. Killing doesn't stop killing. Wars don't stop wars. Be the change you want to see!

Cunt | April 19, 2017 at 10:17 pm

We'll eat an animal but we cant see the blood. What a bunch of fucking pussies people are these days.

Emma | April 19, 2017 at 10:20 pm

I see what you're doing. I hope people make the connection.

john Harris | April 19, 2017 at 10:33 pm

I am so glad we have such a person as you David. For making us think. For giving us a global pride in your creation. For standing up and saying here's the other side.

sue reid | April 19, 2017 at 10:35 pm

Nitsch's meat has been out a little while now...an art trick never never quite cooked and now a little on the nose. Neither does conversation sparked necessarily enhance the virtue or otherwise of art. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with eating meat (its pretty hard to get fresh fruit and veg if home is eg remote Cape York...) - especially if there's the chance to meet what you intend to eat, or at least give your prey the chance of less pain. Commissioning, via Nitsch, the death and use of a dead animal is continuing an orthodox Australian cultural practice. Our most conservative of national institutions also commission animals to be killed for public entertainment. The National Museum of Australia, for example, commisioned a bull, sheep and wallaby to be killed and then taxidermied for public display , and the remains then named after the curators. MOFO breaks from such family friendly orthodoxy in a slightly more bloodied way but its still hanging on to the orthodoxy. Is this really MOFO/MONA's style? DW, no good can come of old meat. Some good old animal's life might have been saved with that same toss of the budgetary coin. More the reason to refocus the attention on matters such as industrialised predation, or the power to choose commissions.

Know1 | April 19, 2017 at 10:39 pm

The Prisoners Trolley Dilemma
A trolley full of your loved ones is heading down the tracks and will hit another loved one. If you redirect it, it will hit three strangers, but all of your loved ones will be fine.
However, there is another person on the other side of the tracks facing the same problem. If you both choose to redirect the trolleys, they will crash in the middle, killing almost everyone.
The least amount of people will die if you do nothing and allow a loved one to die, the best-case scenario for you will occur if you pull your lever and the other person does not pull theirs, and the worst-case scenario will occur if you both pull your levers.

Philosophy is evil.

sue reid | April 19, 2017 at 10:40 pm

Nitsch's meat has been out a little while now...an art trick never never quite cooked and now a little on the nose. Neither does conversation sparked necessarily enhance the virtue or otherwise of art. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with eating meat (its pretty hard to get fresh fruit and veg if home is eg remote Cape York...) - especially if there's the chance to meet what you intend to eat, or at least give your prey the chance of less pain. Commissioning, via Nitsch, the death and use of a dead animal is continuing an orthodox Australian cultural practice. Our most conservative of national institutions also commission animals to be killed for public entertainment. The National Museum of Australia, for example, commisioned a bull, sheep and wallaby to be killed and then taxidermied for public display , and the remains then named after the curators. MOFO breaks from such family friendly orthodoxy in a slightly more bloodied way but its still hanging on to the orthodoxy. Is this really MOFO/MONA's style? DW, no good can come of old meat. Some good old animal's life might have been saved with that same toss of the budgetary coin. More the reason to refocus the attention on matters such as industrialised predation, or the power to choose commissions.

Simon Holmes | April 19, 2017 at 10:49 pm

Fantastic. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading this. This level of engagement and critique of ideas is what is sorely needed as we test and probe what it means to be human.

Jo Lane | April 19, 2017 at 10:54 pm

There is no reason to do this ... just like there's no reason to paint with pigment .. but art 'things' make us look at stuff .. and looking there is.
I was in an art event 41 years ago, a film called Chopping Block by Ivan Durrant. The same Ivan Durrant who killed a cow at the entrance to Nat Gallery of Victoria .. to make people realise, with the same disdain as this, the act of killing animals for our consumption. (of course he did not kill it there, it was from an abattoir)
In Chopping Block we were faced with pigeons in cages in front of us at the dinner table. Our task was to kill them for the chef. A camera tracked around the guest through discourse and butchery .. of course tragic, chaotic and emotional much of the time.
The point was we were made to face consequences ... not all 'nice'.
Same here .. different way. This conversation would not be happening...
Excellent stuff highlighting consequences.

George Manganas | April 19, 2017 at 11:04 pm

Personally I think it is bad taste as I don't see the scumbag artist depicting the Muslim Allah with such vulgarity. Typical of left wing gutter scum go after the easy targets because if they did the same to Islam as they do to Christ they know they would be hunted down and killed. Gutless to the core.

John | April 19, 2017 at 11:04 pm

While the paintings hang, stretched with rabbit skin glue, and closer to home, what Ivan Durrant did what he did in the 70s.

Alisa bowerman | April 19, 2017 at 11:04 pm

What is ones interpretation of art. It is individual what you see i dont. It awakens the senses makes us see feel. Some find your form of art distasteful "thats not art" but i question 'art" in all its forms. I ask you this...i had to give birth to my son who i knew had died i wanted to die with him but they wouldnt let me i wanted him to cry but he didn't i never felt pain again it didnt matter what you did me part of me did die with him. Have you held a dead baby. Have you wanted to hold something and never let it go. I skept wirh him all night . How does art interpet that. Dark or is it heavenly or is it both.

Antony Cox | April 19, 2017 at 11:07 pm

Deconstruct the event, obtain all the blood, organs, carcass etc from a slaughterhouse reconstruct the animal and start the 'art' from there! I'm not serious but the new moral/ethical debate would be interesting.

Carlo Di Falco | April 19, 2017 at 11:11 pm

Suicides and gun murders were in decline well before the 1996 and most of major studies since have found that the NFA had no effect on gun deaths. The chances of being killed in a mass shooting in Aust between 1980 and 1996 was 0.0042 per 100,000. During the same period, New Zealand had a cluster of mass shootings also and their chance of dying in a mass shooting was 0.0050. New Zealand has not had a mass shooting since 1997 despite not banning high powered semi auto rifles or shotguns. Norway didn't ban semi atuos after Anders Breivik killed 76 people and their hasn't been a mass shooting since.The fact is that gun laws don't stop psychopaths from going on spree killings. We have had 10 mass killings (4 or more victims excluding the perpetrator) since 1996. Suicides continued to decline after 1996 downwards until it bottomed out in 2006 at about 1600 afterwhich it bounced upwards and last year it reached 3027. Of these only 185 involved the use of firearms. Hardly proof of the alleged success of our gun laws.

Tom | April 19, 2017 at 11:15 pm

I did have a little laugh when I heard the news on the radio. Specially when several commenters said this isn't art, art to me is anything that invokes an emotional response- be it disgust and revoltion or confusion and intrigue. To me this idea will deliver both sets.

Ken | April 19, 2017 at 11:17 pm

Well said and well done.

SN Irony | April 19, 2017 at 11:23 pm

David / Yvette cam i suggest a compromise get a few menstruating woman and pour their blood over some people. The Animals are safe, the humans are not but then we dont protest so much for their plight these days. Art for artsake. We pick and choose our causes "2017 the Year of I causes". even vegans do not protest for all animal cruelty here in Tasmania.. and the world contiunes on its merry self destruct path, full of idealists, lefties, wankers and a few catholics . I look forward to some ironic release thru Dark Mofo

Max | April 19, 2017 at 11:25 pm

Bravo - here here

Michael | April 19, 2017 at 11:28 pm

David, that was an excellent and well thought out post. I always enjoy Mona when I come to Tasmania to visit family, keep up the great work. If you're ever in South Australia let me know so we can find something entertaining to do and I can pick your brains.

River | April 19, 2017 at 11:29 pm

David what odds would you back for this art piece going ahead?

TBornotTB | April 19, 2017 at 11:30 pm

Frankly I don't see what all the fuss is about. If they ate the bull there would be even more outrage. We live in a conservative place where our old fashioned ideals are getting a good shake up and our thinking challenged. You Mr Walsh take us to places where we are uncomfortable. This is your genius. Thank you for exposing us contradictory superficial humans.

Nick | April 19, 2017 at 11:39 pm

I believe we are all guilty of doing something we like or think is ok, that is perceived as being wrong in someone else's eyes. That doesn't mean I am wrong for doing what I like or believe is ok just because it conflicts with their opinion. Our opinions are what make us individuals and although we may find ourselves at times being swept away in the current that is social trends and popular opinion, I thank the people that challenge the status quo and make us question our beliefs. I won't be attending Hermann Nitschs project but I won't sign a petition against it either. It's not something that interests me, but I am not so naive to think that signing a petition to save a single bull that's marked for slaughter will begin a systematic disintegration of the commercial livestock and red meat export industries. I respect the opinions of those opposed to said industries but I don't like the fact they claim the moral high ground through vocal and sanctimonious protest. Whether you pull the lever or do nothing and let the trolley take its course, that's your choice, but don't criticise someone else if they make a different decision to the one you make.
Just live and let live.

Jason | April 19, 2017 at 11:53 pm

I'm a bit over the death stuff. I hope next year Dark focusses on gratuitous sex.

Wendy S | April 19, 2017 at 11:59 pm

My bloke DT who once shared a Uni house with Moses who once worked for you settles on a house tomorrow for our retirement back to Tassie. This Blog from you makes me so excited to be moving back to a place that has moved so far forward since we've been gone.

I don't know the answers you are seeking and I don't reckon Yvette has an answer that even satisfies herself...but I am enlivened to be moving to a place where questions are being asked! Thankyou!!!

Wendy S

Damian | April 20, 2017 at 12:45 am

I do find Vvette Watt contradictive!

So according to her this performance will not be good art?

March 2016 Vvette organised a performance at the opening of the duck season on moulting lagoon. Yes ducks were being shot for food as Vvette and accomplices danced in costumes and carried on only meters away from hunters. How is this any different? Vvette openly boasts about how artistic it all was!!

Would Vvette and people who share the same opinion as her sacrifice the bull at the track to save all the people from the trolley or is that reguarded evil?

Jason U | April 20, 2017 at 12:46 am

Please don't take a stance of refracting all of the wonderful things you have and will accomplish for Tasmania. I am a farm kid from way back and despite the popularist social media campaign - I get this and think it has a place ... please keep challenging us and taking us all on an incredible journey ... not sure your a saint but I'm happy to show up every Sunday and spread the word.... ;-)

Michael | April 20, 2017 at 12:47 am

Thank you David for a very well written piece. It raises several philosophical arguments; I am unsure where I stand on some of them and don't think that I ever will. I have always looked upon philosophy as a "grey" area, a problem to be solved and converted into black and white. I am finding it hard to decide where I feel this performance may lie, but I do know that it does not sound like my cup of tea so I won't attend it.

I don't "understand" art but I appreciate it serves some unknown purpose, and it occasionally resonates with me, which is why I have visited MONA in the past.

On a separate note, it is refreshing to hear plain-speaking honesty from someone about themselves who are in the public eye. Please keep it (and MONA) going.

Spy Emerson | April 20, 2017 at 01:04 am

David, I love you.

Ruth Williams | April 20, 2017 at 01:14 am

Love the idea of Yvette and DW and HN meeting with the bull ( which from the sound of it will be killed for consumption whether this goes ahead or no ) .. invite Temple Grandin along too ( ok live cross on 730 Report ).. i look forward to reading about it while in UK ( on a trip planned before knu dark mofo dates ) .. been reading today of how it relates to Nietsche[sic], Artaud .. maybe i can quickly get out me kids' book "The Cow That didnt Want To Be Eaten" ( shelved cos relatives eat meat lol ) .. will it / was it to be a random bull ?

Rodney | April 20, 2017 at 05:29 am

Come and see the meat markets here in Gz, it's an eye opener.

Travis Tremayne | April 20, 2017 at 05:53 am

I saw this weird show recently where the UK Prime Minister had to f#*k a pig, a real live pig... on National TV. And if he did not, the Princess of UK (who had been kidnapped - and unofficially already lost a finger to the kidnapper) would be murdered.
The dilemma in the lead up was fascinating....
It ended up he (the kidnapper) let the Princess go (drugged up) before the 'f#*king', which the whole nation ended up watching!!
He killed himself and left a message that it was all for art. It was the most famous artist of the time!
Now that is art.......
Thing is, we love art, or we hate art, but we live for it.
We live to be challenged how to think, and then how to respond.
We don't know this (of course) yet the 'opinion' courses through our veins.
Our red blooded veins.
Go ahead with it..... See what comes of it.....
What you have done with MONA is nothing short of amazing and an impossibility made possible.
I would love to meet you some day.
(* a 3 time vegetarian, 1 time vegan, who actually has no idea what he thinks about many things much of the time!)

Andrea Dahlberg | April 20, 2017 at 06:47 am

This is an example of how Tate considers animals in art contexts "A spokeswoman said the macaws had been taken out before the public opening in anticipation of high numbers. A statement read: “Tate has undertaken a number of rigorous processes to ensure the welfare of the birds in Oiticica’s Tropicália. Their care is of paramount importance to us. They are temporarily with their owner because of the high volume of visitors expected in the opening weeks.”

Alison Butterworth | April 20, 2017 at 07:12 am

If art is meant to illicit a response from the viewer, Nitsch has certainly achieved this. Well done.

Asher Bilu | April 20, 2017 at 07:23 am

In 1975 Ivan Durrant dumped a dead cow at the entrance to the National Gallery of Victoria, an act for which he is still famous. Previously he had planned to kill the cow on the stage at Monash University but this was not allowed, nor was it allowed for him to kill the cow in the CBD. However he is most remembered for killing, not dumping. But he is remembered as an artist.

Lindsay Tuffin | April 20, 2017 at 07:26 am

Nicked it ... http://tasmaniantimes.com/index.php?/weblog/article/the-wondrous-art-of-hermann-nitsch-/ ... hope that's ok david?

Sascha | April 20, 2017 at 07:39 am

Bra - fucking - vo!

Jess | April 20, 2017 at 08:00 am

Will the bull be granted a last request?

Nick Warne | April 20, 2017 at 08:05 am

This would be a great point to post that gif that zooms out from a single person to the Milky Way galaxy and beyond. All we can do is try to leave the world a little better than we find it. Too much ethical navel-gazing seems to become solipsism.

Juan Ford | April 20, 2017 at 08:09 am

Ah, the old runaway trolley argument. Utilitarianism 101. basic philosphy, yawn.

So that the performance is going ahead anyway, whether you like it or not. like the runaway train. if you try to stop it, you're like Hitler. This blog entry is the product of a very intelligent person, but basically its a heap of dimestore philosophy all jumbled up and spewed out incoherently.

I agree that unless you have your 'house in order' that you cannot criticise this performance. if you eat meat then you are conflicted. This is why I am vegan. Much less inner conflict. of course I'm not bloody perfect, but I try to be a better being every day.

I posit this: all life has intrinsic value, and it should not be tied to the economic value of mosquito nets. Mosquitoes dying in this scenario to save people is merely a ranking of life according to human whim. ie more sentient life is of greater value than less sentient life, so bigger brains win. we have the most powerful brains therefore we should be on top. this is a framing bias we find irresistible

if this bias is removed, then all life has value. not equal value, just value. no mathematics. I'd be fully supportive if Hermann Nitsch offered himself up for slaughter, or another willing participant. I'd go see that, that would be truly radical and coherent with his spiel about lost human traditions of sacrifice etc. But he won't, and neither will anyone else. because he benefits from it.

i ask (and so do you, David) who benefits from this? well, you do. Hermann does, the Tasmanian economy does. etc etc etc. Does the bull benefit? No, he has no choice and will die anyway. and this is the problem.

the Bull is being sacrificed on the altar of marketing, not some mist-shrouded pagan altar from long ago. If it goes ahead then this whole thing is a cynical exercise in marketing. But at least it has gotten unthinking, conflicted people thinking about the morality of murdering and eating millions of sentient beings every day.

I posit this: if the performance goes ahead, then marketing wins. if it is shut down, then harm has not been done, and many people will have had the opportunity to think about the morality of consuming animals en masse. maybe some will even change their ways.

Maria Rance | April 20, 2017 at 08:09 am

Thank you for responding David. I was horrified as a lot of people at first. Then thought it through, woke up this morning wondering what is the objective of this performance?
Been a vegan myself,
and horrified at what happens in the slaughter houses,but conviently packaged in neat, bloodless packages in supermarkets is ok. There is such cognitive dissonance out there.

Gary Rowbottom | April 20, 2017 at 08:22 am

Dear David, I am not sure you realise how nutty you really are. If not, from at least my perspective, if it wasn't for the fact you can hide behind a whole pile of $$$ [well done on the wealth accumulation] and the ridiculous claim of being able to satisfy your rather bizarre, perhaps disgusting fantasies by claiming they are artistic endeavours you would probably be in prison or an asylum. I can only imagine what goes on in private at MONA.

Rebecca | April 20, 2017 at 08:24 am

That is certainly food for thought... 😏
There is, as I know you know, holes aplenty. The HighGround is extraordinarily hard to find and I'm not certain you seek it. I'm grasping at an idea around what offering horror as entertainment/ art really does ...not to our rational minds who can justify the purpose and meaning as you do, but to our guts (or that part of our brain that weaves connections and tells us the story of our lives). Can witnessing horror ever do anything beyond revolt or entice depending on our proclivities? All the rest is conversation which we can have without the blood.
But now I have to chop wood, carry water... otherwise known as make breakfast and get my kids to school

Louise taylor | April 20, 2017 at 08:30 am

Wow, I enjoyed and related to what you wrote. I was talking with a friend the other day about complicity, how we dangerously dehumanise those that have committed atrocities as if we weren't capable ourselves, as if they weren't human. We talked about the detention centres and I proposed we are all complicit in keeping the humans concerned in indefinite detention even if we don't agree with it because we do not do everything in our power to change it and if everyone did do everything in their power it would change.
But he just didn't get it, he didn't agree. People find it hard to see the complicity, it scares them and so they throw vitriol on a bright target to appear virtuous and thus avoid complicity.
In this case the artist and his act (and you along with it) can be dehumanised by the act of pointless death and people getting covered in blood for voyeristic purposes only. And people can get very excited about protesting a target like this as I think it's part of a process that further distances them the blood on their own hands for countless deaths and travisities of justice at home and around the world. And apparently justifies some pretty ugly speech and behaviour ... but that's ok because the targets are dehuman.
Most close their eyes to the reality of the factory farming and dairy industry whilst eating BLT's and sipping lattes. Most close their eyes to the atrocities of the refugee crises or where their cheap cloths come from etc etc
The proposed performance and its controversy is a stirring rendition of human behaviour and it's flawed unaware nature in the face of what is going on all the time for are own self serving purposes but that we don't want to admit or look at, let alone accept complicity.
The bull was birthed for are own self serving purposes, it is marked for death for are own self serving purposes, the artist is now using its death for his own self serving purposes and people will buy tickets to see it or protest for their own self serving purposes because that's what humans do. That's why we don't sell the car and save lives but have to get up half an hour later ... we are all self serving, it is our biological imperative ... we are all physiopaths!!!!! (I like that word) Was there ever an option to throw ones self infront of the trolley to save the five? How many people would do that?
I think the piece is very poinant, even beautiful whether the performance goes ahead or not because it is illustrating so succinctly our justification and unawareness of hypocritical thought speech and action in our clammer to be good whilst ignoring the blood on our hands. And publicly or not the bull and countless more like him will still be slaughtered..

D | April 20, 2017 at 08:41 am

I think that you're missing the point. It's a basic argument of supply & demand, if one less life is taken now then one less will be needed somewhere down the track. That particular bull may not be saved, but the exercise is adding to demand.

Brian | April 20, 2017 at 08:46 am

Fascinating article David. $300m is a lot of coin and your contribution to putting Tasmania on the map hasn't gone unnoticed.

Jonathan Rabinovitz | April 20, 2017 at 08:49 am

I wonder if some of the 'creepy fucks' who visit Auschwitz, do so in attempt to process the trauma of losing family members (even ones they may never have met) and connect with their family history in so doing. I don't know of anyone who made the visit in order to garner any of the cheap or macarbe thrills that I suspect some of the creepy fucks who visit Mona, may do. Your highly inappropriate and insensitive comment Mr Walsh detracted somewhat from your article. Shame on you.

Ben Morphett | April 20, 2017 at 09:18 am

Keep on keeping on David. Your argument is rational and clear. I note Yvette repeats 'I want' or would like... and I don't care about her wants and likes. Don't like? Don't go. It's how grownups do it. I am not going to this performance but support your choice to present it. You've done more for Tassie than these judgemental dickheads. Good on you

Christine Simons | April 20, 2017 at 09:21 am

What's new, humans are full of contradictions.We want life to be neat and logical, but it isn't.Just read the news each day.Humans react first to what is sensational, this artist is, which I guess is why he was chosen.After all,David Walsh has always been quite frank about what he does.Mona is Luna Park for adults.Ivan Durrant was causing outrage in Melbourne in the !970s with a similar artistic message.In comparison to this artist ,his performance art was quite polite.

Rick Marton | April 20, 2017 at 09:22 am

I'm yet to find anyone who doesn't have some sort of double standard in their lives. The difference is some people can look at those objectively and challenge their own thinking, others see it as a direct attack on their righteousness.

I'm an animal lover. This specific event repulses me and my initial reaction was "this has gone too far"... but what does it take to get people to notice things these days? The barrier reef is fucked while most of us just go on thinking mining jobs are more important than our earth, and somehow more important than what could come with grasping the opportunities of a 'new economy' which we all have access to.

My point being is that our habits run so deep that they hold us back every day. We need shit to challenge those ignorant habits of willful blindness. And for that reason alone, this event should run. I won't be able to watch it or attend, but already as I devoured the leg off a chook the other day I pondered, 'I'm actually holding the carcass of a once living being' and then after I grabbed all the meat it had to give I showed my appreciation by chucking it in the bin.

Clare Nicholson | April 20, 2017 at 09:30 am

As a contemporary artist, I am ever mindful that along with my practice comes a responsibility. A responsibility that recognises the importance regarding visual literacy. Given there's no artistic authority over how artwork will be viewed and interpreted, this is always in the forefront of my mind as a thinker and maker. As such, I entirely circumnavigate representations of children that could be construed by an audience as sexualised in any way whatsoever, the subjugation of marginalised individuals or groups, and the use of animal 'products' in order to make work about the inhumane commodification of animals etc. This is because it's paramount to me to avoid compounding or reinforcing objectification and violent societal attitudes that get played out, doing great damage.

I find the gross 'artistic' exploitation and abjectification of animals to make a statement through some time-weary 'shock' spectacle about the gross societal exploitation and abjectification of animals not only entirely unethical, but unintellectual, uncreative, unoriginal and an easy/lazy default for those who lack the ability to think deeply or creatively enough to make work that is nuanced and multifaceted, using humane strategies to convey the same message. This age-old tactic of sticking sharks in tanks, shoving taxidermied (often endangered) animals in displaced poses and environments, pretending to bite the heads off chickens while playing music, or encaging live animals is a regurgitated ploy that puts 'artists' (predominately egocentric white men) on the map.

And as for the argument that such 'art' helps in the plight against animal cruelty is simply the snake oil to quell public outcry. It's the smoke and mirrors endorsed by a gallery and fed to those who need to be told how to think and feel about such exhibits, as they're left wondering what they've just witnessed - and why. Where is the artistic/gallery responsibility in this and where are the art critics in this country?

Will slaughtering a bull within a gallery context make viewers more interested, passionate and proactive against animal cruelty? I very much doubt it ... but I'm sure the fact it's already stirred up media coverage has been good very for business - and will continue to be so.

Mel | April 20, 2017 at 09:35 am


As a vegan and someone who spends much of their (limited) spare time helping animals I found myself at odds with my peers when the imminent slaughter was announced. Not only did I think that this could actually be a good idea - I would ONLY want it to go ahead if the slaughter was onstage.

Animals are murdered every day and myself and many of my peers continue the 'rabble rabble' in the background only to be dismissed as lefist hippies. When you, David, feed your daughter steak, I see a piece of a could-have-been best friend, a piece of a could-have-been free spirit, but instead a piece of a now-is dead, torched and butchered soul.

The problem is that for all the rabble, progress in getting meat eaters (and skin-wearers) to have what we call the 'light-bulb moment' and 'make the connection' is (literally) bloody slow.

The level at which the idea of meat is removed from the beautiful furry beast I see on your Daughter's plate is a problem that I believe would be removed (at least for some) by taking an innocent, sentient individual and making meat-eaters watch it's horrific demise. For I know that if my friends and family had to kill themselves they would be vegans like me. And why shouldn't meat eaters be made to watch this? Why is it acceptable behind closed doors but not in the open?

You can call it art - but it isn't - this is reality, this is every day life. Are we so blind to the goings on behind the scenes that a mundane, daily activity can arouse such disgust, outrage and protest by simply proposing to draw open the curtains?

Lorraine anderson | April 20, 2017 at 09:49 am

This is not a fair fight.. The artist and the bull. How about an arena and a bull fight because senor sometimes the bull wins.

Keely | April 20, 2017 at 10:19 am

Thank you for this, David. I've been thinking about it all day. I am a vegetarian and I have decided that I support this art event, because it has raised these conversations about morality and our society's relationship with animals. I just wish that your average steak-and-three-veg-eating, art-is-a-pretty-picture-thinking, Joe would stop for a minute and think more deeply about it before jumping on the hate bandwagon.

L | April 20, 2017 at 10:44 am

I'm a strict vegan. But also Yvette failed me in first year painting so Go David!!!

Chris and Caroline | April 20, 2017 at 11:12 am

What we like about you David is that you are ways a thought provoker.

Darielle Bydegrees | April 20, 2017 at 11:23 am

Dear David. I think you are missing an opportunity for a brilliant curatorial intervention. Cancel the performance (there has already been enough conversation generated by the mere threat of this taking place) Buy the sacrificial bull and install him at MONA as a living artwork. (And trust me, there isn't anything as viscerally numinous as a living breathing bull). That way you get to show that it IS possible to take positive action against the overwhelming carnage of industrialised slaughter you seem so opposed to. I suggest you call the living bull installation 'the bull that art saved' or 'how I took a stand against gloomy fatalistic wankerdom'. You're welcome. X

Alan | April 20, 2017 at 11:52 am

Nitsch these days is old hat and not the issue. David is continuing to push the public out of its comfort zone for an inevitable reaction which will result in dollars for him regardless of result. A bit like his betting scheme, creating money out of nothing with no additional benefit to anyone but him. As a Benevolent Emperor, David is giving back to the Tasmanian economy, but risks being judged a modern day Caligula by continually ramming his particular tastes in art onto the public. Will the community eventually tire of his sensationalism? Should David get a new hobby? Aah, he's having fun, and I like the boy.

Reinhard | April 20, 2017 at 01:05 pm

Thanks David,

Your essay is quite an excessive approach to cover life an death of animals in art and everyday life etc. A G(o)od question. Unfortunately you're meandering through a many dimensional room. No where to arrive.
I think the reason is, that you stay within the limits of abrahamitic culture and religion, where killing an animal halal, koscher od humanly is so important. Killing a bull publically is seen in the abrahamitic kontext as of l'art pour l'art provocation. Let Nitsch kill his bull. In Spain they are killed in the name of art and entertainment as well.

Getting out of these selfreferentiel circle means to leave Abrahms family.

In Hinduism life as such is not very attractive, for it's a disappointment to be born again. Born at least as human (and not as a bull or worm). That gives a better chance to stay unborn next time. Killing an animal (except a cow, but they can be killed by muslims) is nothing special. Being alive or not who cares. (This is changing now under the influence of Western culture, no question.)

For Taoist killing an animal is no problem as well. Being born at all is unfortunate. If somebody is, he/she should stay away from any kind of public position. There's nothing special in ending (one's) life.

A Buddhist doesn't care much about life either. Every living being is able to become a Buddha therefore it's good to care for them. But not to care is equally good. (The dichotomie of good and bad doesn't exist.) All is as it is.
Buddhists are indifferent to Nitsch's performance.
Art comes out a moment or of lifelong being involved in the craft.
Lot's of Buddhists a vegetarian, but the Buddha ended his life by eating rotten pork meat.

Let me add this.
I loved your museum. I loved most those visitors, obsessed with the guiding device. Only sometimes looking up to see the real "thing" otherwise living in the projected reality. In this way every visitor became part of the performance your mueseum is. Dangerous.

Thank you for building this piece of art. The first time I remember, 3/10th of a billion are spentin serving art, the world, the people.


Mathew | April 20, 2017 at 01:16 pm

I checked out Nitsch's work online. It's porn. It's nothing but an excuse to undress young women with perfect bodies.

Nikki Fuda | April 20, 2017 at 01:39 pm

U can pontificate all u like. The killing of an animal for art is bullshit & I will not, CANNOT support it. How disappointed I am in MOFO.

Georgia | April 20, 2017 at 01:53 pm

I wish it was menstrual blood.

Thank you for causing me to wrestle with this topic.

Dan | April 20, 2017 at 02:14 pm

David, maybe you could pardon a Catholic - or an artist - the same way the US President pardons a turkey.

Julia Hill | April 20, 2017 at 02:22 pm

A very interesting read. It made me think and reflect on my stance, but I still cannot see this bloody gore fest as a positive thing. But I guess it has got people talking which may be the artists intent. I wouldn't want to be anywhere near it, but there maybe enough people who can stomach it that will make it economically worthwhile for MONA. It will be following the story with interest mixed with goodly amount of revulsion.

Julia Hill | April 20, 2017 at 02:22 pm

A very interesting read. It made me think and reflect on my stance, but I still cannot see this bloody gore fest as a positive thing. But I guess it has got people talking which may be the artists intent. I wouldn't want to be anywhere near it, but there maybe enough people who can stomach it that will make it economically worthwhile for MONA. It will be following the story with interest mixed with goodly amount of revulsion.

Melegueta Mattay | April 20, 2017 at 02:55 pm

I believe that the current holocaust of animals brought about by the advent of factory farming is iniquitous. I do not believe there is such a thing as humane killing. If the Austrian can make people stop and think what they are doing by eating meat then something ethical has been achieved but not in the name of art. By having the unfortunate creature killed in a slaughterhouse does not achieve an end it then makes what he does just a glorification of blood and gore. I am vegetarian and abhor cruelty to animals in any form and there is plenty of it outside slaughter houses. I think the public spectacle just a gimmick. One step away from public executions.

Helen | April 20, 2017 at 03:21 pm

The artist and enablers involved in taking that animal's life must think they are superior and have the right to determine who lives and dies for the sake of public experience and debate. It wouldn't be done to a human animal so why is it ok to use a non-human animal life this way?

Od | April 20, 2017 at 03:49 pm

Eloquently put and thought provoking. How deeply I wish society was less reactive and allocated sufficient time to nurture and form ideas. Being able to feel in such a sterile plastic world, will always leave one unhappy. Being able to understand, in a world hellbent on paradox, will always leave one feeling lost.

John Ingleton | April 20, 2017 at 05:42 pm


Wendy | April 20, 2017 at 05:46 pm

I am so sad that Nitsch thinks that this is art.
To me it is the uttermost disrespect for all living creatures (humans included) that he would dance in blood and entrails and call it art.
Yes I am a vegetarian and have been for many years.
It sickens me that so many people eat meat and never ever think about the living animal that their steak/chops/snags used to be.
Every now and then, an event or thing occurs that brings to everyone's attention the actuality of where their meat comes from... ie a living sentient animal. But it's usually fairly transient and the controversy fades, and people still eat meat.
An event of this sort might actually lead to some people making the moral choice to eschew meat, but there have to be better ways to get that argument across.
I know that no amount of protesting is going to ever STOP people like Nitsch from doing this type of shit, and that is very sad.

Anna Williams | April 20, 2017 at 05:56 pm

Like you said, if Nitsch's performance was stopped "it wouldn't be a disaster". Because as the protesting and controversy grows, so too will the audience which I think is great... bring it on and make the plebs think!

dislasystem | April 20, 2017 at 06:17 pm

the trolley argument is flawed in this situation, as in the argument the decider is merely an observer in the situation with the potential to enact change with moral implication, in this situation the artist essentially is the one who sets the trolley in motion therefore negating the moral question.

its_eclectic | April 20, 2017 at 06:58 pm

… and, moreover, we no longer have to judge something to be beautiful in order to judge it to be art (though this was never a sufficient condition). In this sense anti-art or antitaste movements have made a huge impact on twentieth-century art and our critical attitudes. Even though the modern judgement ‘This is art’, does not necessarily involve taste, it remains … an aesthetic judgement, since it is reflexive and, above all, is made on the basis of how one feels about the quality of the object in question.

… although antiart is, rightly, said to be antitaste, it has to be added that anti-art is fundamentally inimical to art in all its aspects and not merely taste and disinterested contemplation in the Kantian sense. It is a moot point, then, whether [it] gives sufficient weight to the unmitigated nihilism of anti-art in its most extreme forms or really comes to terms with its brutal and uncompromising rejection of all values commonly associated with art, including avant-garde art. Furthermore, the crucial distinction between (Kantian) taste judgements and (post-Duchampian) aesthetic judgements is not at all clear, and we need an explanation of what it means to say, if anything, that we can make aesthetic judgements without exercising taste in some sense or other.

According to the aesthetic perspective, however, art and anti-art are not to be confused, for not only would such confusion, in the long run, undermine our concept of art, it would also deny anti-art its very raison d’être. To use an analogy drawn from physics, anti-art stands in the same relation to art as antimatter stands in relation to matter. They are polar forces incapable of being reconciled.

Humble, P. N. (n.d.). Anti-Art and the Concept of Art. A Companion to Art Theory, 244-252. doi:10.1002/9780470998434.ch20

Q. Do we harangue the Chilean artist whom happily displays her menstrual blood in an Art exhibition? http://gawker.com/woman-puts-five-years-of-menstrual-blood-on-display-at-571337446

Q. Let’s denigrate the band-members of KISS and the publishers of Marvel comics when, in 1977, KISS pricked their fingers and allowed their flowing blood to be mixed with commercial inks to finalise printing of an issue of a Kiss comic? http://www.snopes.com/music/artists/kissblood.asp

Q. And how about we deplore the band ‘The Europeans’ in their music video ‘Animal Song’ when a band member was captured in mid-chomp with a chunk of raw meat product? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xAN5xt48KhU

Does not these former ‘lateral-thinking’ uses of human blood to convey artistic emotion from within the essence of the artists’ seem to mean more as they were produced from a human – a human whom has a spirit, a soul, a psyche?

Conversely, does not an animal have a spirit, a soul, a psyche? I think that question is for the veterinarian existentialists as it transcends the biblical realm of which I am not familiar with.

Animals are revered internationally depending on the culture. They are worshipped for years during their nurturing time then, when the time is right as per the specific religion etc, the animals are slaughtered within ritualistic laws. Cannot Nitsch recreate these rituals and then we, the public, can partake of something that is real, special, one-off, terribly fascinating and surreal?

Can an act of perceived disgust be allowed to be performed if it does not transgress the laws of the day.
I am reminded of the Australian comedian – Rodney Rude. Some say he was disgusting and maybe so. He has an audience though.

Take VIZ magazine published from the U.K. It is puerile humour perhaps? It has a market and some people enjoy that sort of humour. It is not illegal to write, read or own this content.

Is this debate about Nitsch really about vegans v meat-eaters?

Is it animal lovers v normal people whom consume meat that needs to be obtained from – usually – a slain animal?

Is the Nitsch performance a religious debate of the social mores of spirituality v radical free-thinking contemporary people.

Is this Nitsch performance going to be a deplorable abasement of the human form by allowing it [humans] to be drenched in the refuse of another animal?

Christo wrapped things in wheelbarrows from way back in the 1960’s. Some thought that was a little weird. Christo wraps islands now. Many rejoice in the irony of wrapping edifices.

Times change through the public being able to accept that art is not always what we think it should be.


Leeanne | April 20, 2017 at 08:23 pm

Can't understand someone being vegetarian whilst they, dairy and poultry are the cruelest industries of all ?

Ron Williams | April 20, 2017 at 09:01 pm

So it is a picture of a Girl having what could be a Jug of Concentrated Cochineal poured onto her face. So?
It could represent many things. Too many people believe that what they are told is the truth. BS! Believe only that which your eyes believe to be true but firstly Analise your vision and ask what is the truth in an age of Lies and deception?

James | April 20, 2017 at 09:49 pm

I've been told of dozens of seagulls being culled that are attracted into PW1 during the taste of tas because it is convenient to have doors open. This is a Hobart City Council controlled event. Given the largely public rejection of animals being needlessly slaughtered for entertainment purposes, I'm interested in the lord mayor offering comment here on this cull of a protected species that is only necessary out of convenience and relative ease? I'm sure everyone involved feels morally justified given it is easy to get a permit to destroy a protected species from parks - making the whole thing legal.

lynG | April 20, 2017 at 09:54 pm

the only christian television ad i can think of is "i got three pockets on my overalls.." and "hello there" with Rev Legge in the 80's. (Tas only) Which one were you thinking of? ;-)

Adonis Storr | April 20, 2017 at 10:38 pm

"If art doesn't move people, then art has failed." - Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu. I now live in Austria where our subject of the month, Hermann, is from. I reside presently in a sleepy country town at the foot of the Alps. Life moves a little slower here, outside the window I can see horses, who sometimes, while strumming my guitar on the porch, sidle over to the fence together and listen, looking up the hill, past the winding country road and cocking their ears upon the wind to catch the faint chords and voices in the near-distance. I often have wondered what their experience is during these times, there is something about art that can exist between two different species of life; and though art of any kind maybe confusing to different members of the same species, the connection between differing species can seem altogether alien entirely. But what a magnificent spectacle, to be caught up in between towering intellectual's gladitorialisings, debates which spark and light-up; and all surrounding a condemned being, whose life almost certainly will, one-way or another, be brought to an end. Is this not what great art should do? To stamp upon our nerves - at points where they are most exposed? To teeter on our moral compass and skirt the edge of what is right and what is not? And doesn't this line change with time? Could we still march to the beat of a Marina Abramovic 'Rhythm 0' performance in this present age of political correctness; would we allow this of the bull? Was it art when the cook fashioned a burger for your tongue, is it art for the butcher to fashion a feast for your eyes? And is it not perhaps better if we were to see the wheels of the meat industry machine through a crystal clear glass window, rather than those bloody cogs ever-turning in the shadows of some steel-walled factory? Is it only acceptable to eat meat when there are so many unseen steps between the packaged cold steak in the supermarket fridge, and the still-warm-blooded animal walking it's last green mile? I think that perhaps we, as the audience, have far darker aspects to our beings lying just under the surface, as 'Rhythm 0' revealed - and yet when we are forced to acknowledge these darker sides - there is mass panic - for it wakes us up to reality, and we cannot therefore reside longer in our comfortable dream. If you are sane, and the whole world is crazy, yet you are the one called insane, it still does not make you crazy. Let us wake up to ourselves, that if this - the slaughter of an animal - is enough to create some politically correct crusade against it, yet we cannot muster one word against bombs falling on Syria, or the mass destruction of the Amazon, or even, the endless factory farmed animals bred for slaughter who spend their whole lives indoors - then we are stating nothing other than "we are squeamish" and "please don't ruin our nice festival for us - it is our holiday". The way I see this problem is thus - animals are beautiful and sacred - we are also animals - animals kill animals for various reasons - cats kill to give you a present, or just for fun - we are separated from animals by some ability to communicate ideas to each other - ideas about morality - thou shalt not kill and so on. When we have an understanding that there is a difference between killing an animal (which was going to be killed anyway) and using it for art before eating it; and killing an animal and eating it, then I think perhaps there is some confusion between our natural nature, a respect for the dead, what art could be, and making use of the whole animal. I am currently boiling bones and making broth - a practice that has been lost to a lot of people who simply eat steaks - not necessarily the best part of the animal to consume. And as Bill Hicks said "putting terminally ill people in the movies as stunt actors - not the most popular idea I've had" - but perhaps one could argue that given that we do have only one death, perhaps it's not a bad way to go out, with a wild brush stroke, in a streak of flair. "Buy the ticket, take the ride" as Hunter S Thompson said - or more appropriately - don't, if that doesn't suit you. And it seems very aligned to the style and flavour of Dark Mofo, to have some sort of ritualistic-style art on display, and certainly as was pointed out by Mr Walsh - who you have probably guessed I am an admirer of - if you would like a tale of ritualistic cannibalism you need only go as far as your local church - and I would have thought that eating the meat of a differing species is a little more acceptable. So, all in all, I would say that art to some is a little like the horses that wonder up to the edge of the fence of the little farm down the country road out of my window, I may play the most hideous or beautiful notes, and who knows how their experience is? What are we alive for, and what are we to make of this great adventure? If it should do anything, art should move us, change us, wake us up. And as long as no-one is physical hurt, and nothing killed (that would have otherwise been happily alive) then I see the whole thing as perfectly fine, if not as the horses will tell you of my music, totally understandable.

Belinda Price | April 20, 2017 at 10:51 pm

A physiopath... dear me that's embarrassing. I love animals and it upsets me greatly to think yet another animal has to die to 'prove a point' if you like, yet I can see the purpose. Would it not have the same effect and still be art to play real footage of slaughterhouses juxtaposed against film of ordinary, everyday people eating meat? Nitsch may not be inspired to explore these options given it is his expression of art and not mine. I would love to save the bull's life (even if it is just another bull). I think his idea is clever and believe in his intentions (if I am interpreting his intentions correctly) - and that is if it means forcing people to face reality that animals are slaughtered just so we can eat them because so many people can't cope with the idea and choose not to face it. I have been guilty of this also but am now vegan. I just wish/hope the message could be delivered just as powerfully without killing yet another animal. Why not show live footage of a slaughterhouse (where the animals are being slaughtered anyway) on several screens amongst several screens of ordinary people sitting around eating their Sunday roast or ham sandwich at lunch or ordering steak over a candle lit dinner? There has to be another way?? I (and I think a lot of people) would find this confronting enough for the message to hammer home.

Georgia | April 20, 2017 at 11:24 pm

If we are talking about "pulling a lever" to save 5, then make the Winter Feast vegan or vegetarian at least.

Michael | April 20, 2017 at 11:33 pm

Neither for nor against the Nitsch performance but I'd still like to contribute to the debate. It would appear that pointing out people's moral hypocrisies to them, which the intended art piece is extreme but effective at doing so, is only effective if the end result is action and not merely debate. Veganism may very well be the most morally correct stance to take on the issue of using animals for human consumption, based on what philosophers (Peter Singer is a prime example) can currently define as 'morally good', but I think you only have to look at the fact that there isn't a more widespread uptake of these practices to see that this field of ethics needs to be further refined if more people are to be convinced.

Regardless of all that, I don't think you need complex ethical arguments to show that factory farming is, to put it bluntly, a 'pretty fucked' practice. It is my hope that simple pragmatism will suffice here. Ignoring animal ethics all together (although in my opinion they're an important factor), there are other issues such as the sustainability and pollution of this industry that we should also be deeply concerned about and perhaps more people can get behind. If people just ate a bit less meat and recognised that it is highly resource intensive to produce then perhaps we wouldn't even need Nitsch's performance in the first place.

So thank you David for facilitating this debate, I found myself agreeing with a lot of the points you made. I think the most important thing for anybody reading this to realise is that it's the majority of people, those that are more or less on the fence when it comes to animal welfare, that have the most power to enact positive change, simply by being a bit more conscientious when it comes to where they source there food from.

IXinX | April 21, 2017 at 12:08 am

What an interesting blog post. Probably the most interesting i've ever read. Feels like i've discovered some obscure geocities or angelfire hosted website in the late 90's early 00's

Jan | April 21, 2017 at 12:22 am

Great food for thought! (Couldn't resist the pun, sorry.) It didn't at all resemble a tirade - just a considered discussion. As soon as i read of the Nitsch performance, i thought it may not be my thing yet did not think this meant i should impose my predilections on others. Instead i wondered how long it would take for the indignation to bubble forth... the only surprise was how brief my wait was.
As for Mr Singer, his thinking has often inspired me - like those mosquito nets, he reckons that if all of us wealthy folk donated a mere 5% of our income towards reducing poverty, the world could be free of poverty within a decade. But after 3 years of doing that, i noticed no discernible change in the state of poverty & decided instead to fund my kids' university educations.
I still care more about poverty and the environment than some artist who wants to kill something in the name of art. So there.

Jez | April 21, 2017 at 12:27 am

You're not a saint bro

Peter D | April 21, 2017 at 12:42 am

Dear David, society and individuals are full of contradictions. Killing as Art is in no way justified by the need to point this out. Killing for meat is one thing but the theatrical display of the blood and entrails of that killing is a gross act of disrespect for the sacrificed animal. Put a stop to it. You have made your point.

Daniel ryan | April 21, 2017 at 12:55 am

Is it art . Not sure what is art in post modern times . Is it Specticle yes ....is it interesting to watch yes ... what does one feel at the pointy end of a steak ..... I do not eat beef any more and I miss the taste ..... is this artist a bit gross yes .... but some of the art formed by blood on canvas is quite powerful

Karan Hayman | April 21, 2017 at 08:00 am

Well argued and your points have merit. People should get real where there food comes from.
The cost $750,000.00 has me completely stumped !
So tempted to say out loud a fool any their money are soon parted but you I know are no fool and I am a poor painter !

Deke Savage | April 21, 2017 at 08:29 am

I met one of Martin Bryants prosecution lawyers jn the 1990s. She told me all evidence pointed to the fact he did not act alone. And she personally felt he did not act alone. { maybe recreate the shooting as "art" but charge the ozzie bourgeoise who can discuss it over their smashed avocado }

Josh | April 21, 2017 at 11:12 am

Great article, it has helped me to understand my own thoughts on the performance.

Nemo | April 21, 2017 at 03:29 pm

I have a strange and odd comment to add to this discussion that may seem out of place. The "Art" rituals portrayed here for Hobart are indeed true BLACK MAGIC OCCULTISM I have been a student in Occultism and Ceremonial Black Magic and other Ancient Ceremonial Rites stretching back to antiquity this so called "Art" is derivative of Black Magic and is not "Art" at all but is "actual ceremonial black magic in practice" merely re-presented as Art. Nitsch has deceived you all in presenting this as "Art". As bizarre as this claim is and as obscure as I may appear to be in this comment this "Artist" is an extremely disturbed and evil person of the highest magnitude trained in evil arcane arts never to be mentioned. Anyone who works with this man or welcomes him into their land to practice such Magic is a fool of the worst kind and exposes his fellow citizens to deep and secret evil that harms all who engage in such practice. I cannot possibly warn you of the magnitude of evil you are welcoming into the house of Hobart. Enjoy the 500 litres of blood spilt...for...Art? What "Art" does he speak of because it isn't fingerpainting Art but the Dark "Arts" the "Magick Arts" not Art in the definition of mundane people of entertainment. You are deceived by Nitsch. Ban him from Australia and cancel his performance. I will not waste time explaining why.

RAFFO | April 21, 2017 at 05:55 pm

I shoot deer in the midlands of Tasmania. I cut up the animal and carry the meat in a back pack (Murphy's law) usually several kilometers to my car. In the winter the warmth from the meat warms my back which is quite pleasant it there is snow and wind. When I return home I freeze the meat. I make mince, deer curries, roasts and pies.
Over time I have learnt that animals in the factory farmed meat industry live quite sad lives. People who buy meat in plastic should know this. I now refuse to buy this meat because the industry shows little respect for an animals life and the customer is deluded (see this MONA blog) into thinking they bear no responsibility for what occurs.
I agree with David - this artwork will stimulate thought which is a good thing. Might wake up a few dormant minds.
Readers will agree - Mr Walsh has an elegant way of turning a subject sideways and revealing new dimensions. His motives are curiously pure.

Rosie Cross | April 21, 2017 at 08:51 pm

David, I'm not convinced. But then again, the fact you have a shit load of money means you prolly don't really care to hear alternate opinions or those who care to disagree with you. However, for what it's worth you fail to mention the even creepier side of Hermann Nitsch. He has been imprisoned for his sick acts. He advocates for violence, orgies and taboos; &not necessarily in that order. Clearly, either DarkMofo and u haven't investigated his past or just think it's a big FU to anyone who embraces decency and respect for animals. Does the price of the ticket include the artist's personal proclivities for ritualised orgies that engage in violent acts and animal blood? Let me also be clear that his show has no 'awareness' raising aspect to it. He's simply a sick fuck and hedonist. Sorry, I forgot u have tons of money so simple facts may not interest you; and u prefer to sit amongst the other gods of bullshit on your right and taking the piss on your left.

Julia Salmon | April 21, 2017 at 09:22 pm

This is without doubt one of the most disgusting things I have read. Art is supposed to provoke, I agree. However this is the most soulless, terrible representation of what our World has come to. A short walk from showing mutilated babies and victims of war atrocities. I truely hope that this event blows up in your face. There is no defence for this sort of crap in the name of Art. It is shameful..yes, attention grabbing, but purely evil if this is what you wish to present to patrons. I am disgusted.

P.S...your words prior to posting So, "you know...don't be a jerk."

If you do not post this response...that is exactly what you are.

Tones | April 21, 2017 at 09:51 pm

"I spend time and expend resources trying to dissect my hypocrisy. You are my captain in this voyage of discovery. And I only discovered you existed two days ago because of the asymmetry that Mona has wrought." For a moment I thought God went from his most lucid writing to date, to justifying his decisions. The follow up was brilliant. It's a meaty discussion... sorry

tones | April 21, 2017 at 10:25 pm

btw, could I get a gig to come and read The Jungle by Sinclair with some cohesion?

Alexis Mamacas | April 21, 2017 at 10:28 pm

Brilliant words David, you have articulated many of my thoughts about this. I believe this art installation has already proved to be incredibly powerful, whether it goes ahead or not.

How about no | April 22, 2017 at 03:22 pm

I got to the point where you decried the "creepy fucks who go to Auschwitz", and I thought; "You fucking, fucking moron." The rest of your rambling diatribe did nothing to change my opinion.

Michelle Warren | April 22, 2017 at 03:56 pm

As a non red meat eater, I have already opted to withdraw from the 'out of sight out of mind' mass killing of animals for our gastronomic pleasure. When I heard about this ritual bull killing event for Dark MOFO, rather than being repulsed I was intrigued and I knew that David Walsh would offer a well thought through and rational argument about the selective and thoughtless attitude towards what will essentially be, the slaughter of an animal, already heading to the abattoir, in a different place. I think it's about time meat eaters were confronted with and made to face up to, their passive complicity in this huge and incredibly barbaric industry.

Michael Goldberg | April 22, 2017 at 08:10 pm

When the traditional South West African San hunter kills an animal, after a chase on foot that often lasts hours, he thanks the animal as it dies in a traditional ritual and makes it as comfortable as possible in its final moments. Then, every part of the animal is either consumed as food by his group or used to make clothing and utilities. This speaks volumes of a respect for a life lived, and a life taken. I'm humbled in my knowledge of this tradition. There is no spectacle involved and more importantly, there is no waste of the earthly remains of the once living being. Nitsch's spectacle will possess none of this dignity - either for animal or human. The performance will speak of nothing other than sensation - and that from a totally human and ego driven perspective. And then, there is the sheer waste of it all in the name of a pretty useless activity - Art.

Claire | April 22, 2017 at 09:09 pm

Wow David, did you really write this? You are but a figment of my imagination. This is eloquent and well written. Every point is valid and beautifully said.
And now we wait.....

Claire | April 22, 2017 at 09:09 pm

Wow David, did you really write this? You are but a figment of my imagination. This is eloquent and well written. Every point is valid and beautifully said.
And now we wait.....

Tom | April 23, 2017 at 11:03 am

You truly are the highest order of twat

Linda Barker | April 23, 2017 at 03:13 pm

Well written David very interesting.

Clancy St Hubbins | April 24, 2017 at 08:46 pm

Oh great! I bet this means my 'Dismembering a Vegan' wont go ahead now!

Melissa C | April 28, 2017 at 01:49 pm

So now we need to not only kill sentient beings, but dance around in our victims bodies as well? What a disgusting, vile and disrespectful species we are.

Carolyne Milne | April 30, 2017 at 04:34 pm

What a MORON!! Maybe it should be yourself that is slaughtered instead of an innocent cow. Don't you think it's bad enough that poor cows are slaughtered already, but no you have to have it made into a supposedly piece of art, what crap!! This person, I won't refer to him as an artist, because this is not art, should be run out of town like so many other countries have done. Where is our gutless government???

Christine Jameson | May 10, 2017 at 12:44 pm

I will be boycotting MONA forever as this slaughter is disgraceful. It is not art and, no matter how you try to justify these heinous actions, it never will be and will not be a protest either. In case you think I am one of the hypocrites, I am vegan as I do not want any animals to suffer so I may survive.

Anand OHara | May 17, 2017 at 10:03 am

Thankyou David. Once again you hit the pertinent nail on the pragmatic head. Humour and hubris. Quodos.

Stella | May 18, 2017 at 09:17 pm


Amanda | May 22, 2017 at 12:04 am

Checking out this guy's work online, I hope comfortable seats will be provided for the audience because they certainly won't be sitting on the edge of them! I rather enjoyed the gratuitous nudity and the close ups of the actors doing their level best to consume as little blood as possible. Apart from that though; yawn! You'd think in 40 years of presenting the same piece he might have made some effort to make it feel a bit less like the community drama group getting a bit risqué on the village green.
The animal rights angle appears to be a cynical justification for frolicking about in animal parts, nothing more, nothing less.

Lyndsey Hatchwell | June 1, 2017 at 08:48 pm

Ah David, what a magnificent mind you have. The twists and turns are spectacular. So here goes, my 10 cents worth. I have been pondering my response to Nitsch's intended mess since I jumped on the "sign the petition bandwagon", which I duly signed. Since then it has bothered me on many levels so I have decided it's not disgusting enough after all the people generally getting their knickers in a knot are people who care about animals and usually try to do their best in regards to not eating, beating or abusing them (I like to think I am in this group, but am yet to go fully vegan....close but no cigar). Why is that I wonder, peer pressure? I like the taste? Texture nope. I really am not sure, but feel coming from a rural background that I have been rather duped by the food industry. I don't need to eat protein from an animal that converts plant protein into meat, but I am told that I should drink my milk, eat liver, lots of protein will make me strong. Well what a load of bollocks. So here is my proposal: Pardon the bull - not his fault somebody wishes to profit from his birth and death (born into the wrong caste perhaps). Next have him take up residence on the grounds of MONA and video his daily meanderings onto a split video projection with him in the top section mooching around doing bull stuff and below have a family (I see distressed/old style footage perhaps 70's) of mum (of course) cooking a bloody great roast with a couple of sad veges. It unceremoniously gets slapped on the table and mum, dad & 2 kids eat mindlessly as all are absorbed by their mobile devices whilst in the background the over-sized TV screens the latest scenes from "la abattoir". You know like when they pull the skin off the cattle or throw the hearts still pumping into a plastic bin (yeah one of my high school outings was a trip to the abattoir - noice). Dinner finishes and dead animal remains then get scraped into the bin without a second thought. Lets take that even further and have the video screening in your restaurants, how blissful would that be as guests delicately shove an eye fillet with roasted beets into their cavernous mouths. I am sure it would go down a treat. Methinks this might cause some discussion, preferably some vomiting but at the end of the day I know which of the two would make me more permanently scarred. Nitsch's work IMO if you dig down deeper, disgusts people at a base level because of the "how could they do that" (you know humans are not "animals" stuff) - more so than the horror for the shredded dead beast which will be forgotten at the next BBQ. Oh and the working title (created with beer, wine and conversation with a good friend) 'Bring it to the Table'.

The Histrionics | June 14, 2017 at 11:07 pm


The controversy has created quite a Histrionic response.

Eve Sinton | June 17, 2017 at 08:08 pm

As a farmer who has raised and humanely killed animals to eat: no bloodthirsty joy was taken in this. No rolling and cavorting in blood. Your event was like a snuff movie, it was not art, it was a psychopathic bloodfest. You had to keep the event in a secret location. If you had real guts, you'd have killed the bull right in front of the audience so they were confronted with the entire snuff deed. It was not art. It was blood for money and notoriety. A total disgust to any real farmer, any animal lover, any artist with with half a conscience. If you revel in the controversy you made, just because you think it's art, you drag your own soul and consciousness into a revolting black hole from which you never deserve to emerge.

X | June 17, 2017 at 08:51 pm

Um you're on Aboriginal land. Performing a public 'ancient ritual' on country without consent of First Nations is a heinous act of vandalism. Hahhaaaa 'ancient' whitefellas are funny fuckers (and puddle deep).

Marni | June 21, 2017 at 03:37 pm

Sitting neither left nor right, nor particularly interested in social hysteria promulgating neo-moral rhetoric, I loved this article.
Factions of humans seeking only to be 'right' and assimilate all social consciousness to the correct one in the name of peace serve only to drive a hefty deunifying wedge. There is no reasoning. Instinct and intuition have been laid aside for socio intellectualism. Pfft.

Aaron Cupples | July 1, 2017 at 08:39 pm

David. I have a proposal for next years festival. It is a glass walled, fully operational and standards compliant abattoir. With live cows being walked (or dragged) in one end, and perhaps a free BBQ at the other? Please get in touch. Yours sincerely, a vegetarian.