Indigenous artist posts ad asking for dead body of white person to atone for ‘past sins’

3 minutes, 0 seconds Read

A Tasmanian Indigenous artist is asking for an “Australian of British descent” to donate their corpse to be used in a taxpayer-funded public art installation that will “speak to sacrifice for past sins”.

The Australian on Tuesday revealed Nathan Maynard, a playwright, writer and producer, was the anonymous artist behind an unusual ad that appeared in mainland newspapers including The Age last weekend, sparking speculation on social media.

“Palawa artist wanting to find an Australian of British descent who is willing to donate their future deceased body to an art installation,” the ad read.

“The work will speak to sacrifice for past sins perpetrated against the palawa. Potential applicants should see this opportunity as an honour. The body and the memory of the successful application will be treated with the utmost respect at all stages of the project.”

The ad in The Age last Saturday.The ad in The Age last Saturday.

Maynard told The Australian he was “deadly serious” about the work, titled “Relict Ac”, which is supported by the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery (TMAG) and the Hobart City Council and was commissioned as part of an exhibition for November’s Hobart Current arts festival.

According to the newspaper, Maynard has received $15,000 from the council for the project. He said the goal was to make Australians think more deeply about how far they were willing to go to support Indigenous people.

“I want people to ask, ‘What am I prepared to do for Aboriginal Australians?’” he said.

“I don’t expect everyone would want to donate their dead body. That’s a huge ask – I’m aware of that. But hopefully it starts a conversation in lounge rooms, in offices around Australia and internationally.”

Aboriginal artist Nathan Maynard. Picture: Peter Mathew/The AustralianAboriginal artist Nathan Maynard. Picture: Peter Mathew/The Australian

Maynard said there was “so much tokenism around at the moment” and “virtue signalling is really a trend”.

“It’s trendy to act like you’re on Aboriginal Australians’ side, you’re friends with First Nations people around the world and you want to fight for their cause,” he said.

“But I do suspect a lot of that is for people’s own benefit. They might not put their body on the line for an art installation, but what are they physically prepared to do? Are they prepared to come and march on the streets with us for ­Invasion Day? Are they prepared to fight alongside us for more land, for a treaty?”

Maynard told The Australian several people had already expressed interest in donating their bodies since the ad first appeared on Saturday. While he wouldn’t reveal too much about what form the artwork would take, he said he was “open to collaborating” with the donor.

But he said the work will “speak to” colonial-era theft and display of Aboriginal bones and skeletons.

TMAG director Mary Mulcahy told The Australian the work would “highlight our hurtful past practices, particularly the treatment of Tasmanian Aboriginal remains”.

“While we are aware that ­Nathan Maynard’s proposed work may be confrontational, and that some members of the community may be uncomfortable with the work, we believe it is an important part of our commitment to the apology and truth-telling,” she told the newspaper.

More Coverage

Single confronting photo divides nationWedding venue responds to photo furore

Maynard and TMAG have been contacted for comment.

[email protected]

Similar Posts