Arterial motive? Visitors to artist Andrei Molodkin's new show asked to contribute their own blood

Alice Jones' Arts Diary

It makes a change from warm white wine and waffle about the artist. Visitors to the opening night of Andrei Molodkin’s new show at Void Gallery in Derry last week were invited to give blood, and thus become part of his latest artwork.

Catholic Blood consists of a hollow acrylic replica of the Rose Window from the Houses of Parliament and a fridge containing samples of freshly donated human blood, which is circulated through the window using a medical pump.

Molodkin, who has previously made art out of Iraqi oil and soldiers’ blood, stipulated that all donors must be Catholic, to make a point about the fact that “there have been no Catholic British Prime Ministers”. “Some people were angry that I hadn't used both Catholic and Protestant blood. They felt cheated that I had only chosen to use Catholic blood. It was never my intention to mix religions - the intensity is in the separation… In Derry, there is a legacy of people who have given their blood for freedom, politics and religion.”

A remarkable 36 donors came forward, including a film producer and a son of a Catholic priest. “Right from the beginning I had to fight for this exhibition. I met with so much resistance that I brought a nurse from Paris and set up an off-site location where people could go to donate their blood away from the gallery. Even then, people still tried to prevent the donations from happening. But the members of the public who wanted to donate didn't listen - they felt that it was their choice whether they could give blood or not.” The work will be on show until 28 June.

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