Nitsch performance using slaughtered bull to go ahead in Tasmania

A petition launched by an animal rights group to block the work has attracted 20,000 signatures


A performance by the Austrian artist Hermann Nitsch, which will use the carcass of a slaughtered bull to stage a “bloody, sacrificial ritual” will take place, as planned, on 17 June in Tasmania.

Animal rights’ campaigners had tried to block the work, the artist’s first in Australia. By this morning, 27 April, a petition set up on by Animal Liberation Tasmania, which called on the City of Hobart to stop the Nitsch performance because it “trivialises the slaughter of animals for human usage, and condemns a sentient being to death in the pursuit of artistic endeavours,” had been signed by over 20,000 supporters.

But in a statement emailed to the press, Leigh Carmichael, the creative director of Dark Mofo, an annual music festival held at the Museum of Old and New Art, said that the Nitsch ritual would proceed.

The work of the Austrian artist, one of the key members of the Viennese Actionist group, “exposes reality” and “deals with the sanitation of war, horror, and slaughter…For those members of the public who believe that this is no more than shock art, or a publicity stunt, we urge you to look deeper,” Carmichael said.

The statement continued: “Art sometimes has the power to influence a community, and although it would be an indirect outcome of this performance, we would consider a reduction in the consumption of meat a positive result. If we cancel this event, not one bull will be saved…Yes, we could select a random animal to live peacefully in a paddock for the rest of its life. This would amount to no more than a futile attempt to reduce our guilt, and in the process further suppress the truth and reality that we are seeking to understand.”

In January 2015 an exhibition of Nitsch's work at the Jumex Collection in Mexico City was cancelled following protest by animal rights activists.