30.8.01

Hunters-art too controversial for the UK


Spiked-online 29. august 2001:

“Hunters of the North” is the modest title of an exhibition galleries and museums in Scotland are afraid of allowing onto their premises. “The word “hunter” is obviously taboo in the UK, says Birgir Kruse, the co-ordinator of the exhibition.

“In Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen we were told that the exhibition was too controversial. Some places would consider showing it, but that was under certain conditions: “Change the title so that the word “hunters” is left out, and leave out the artwork showing pilot whaling, says Birgir Kruse.

The co-ordinator took this message back to his board but they stood firm and would not change the title.
“The reason being that the title in their view expresses their communities fundamental right to a sustainable hunt”, says Kruse.

“Hunters of the North” was initiated by the West Nordic Council and produced by The Nordic House in The Faroe Islands in co-operation with The Nordic House in Iceland and the Nordic Institute in Greenland. The intention of the exhibition is to give people an insight into the hunter’s way of living as seen from several angles; artistic, technological and anthropological.

The quality of the exhibition was not challenged
“But those financing exhibitions are obviously afraid of the public debate this theme could cause”, says Kruse who is extremely surprised by the views expressed in the UK.
“I had expected more understanding. With no substance to their arguments whatsoever the environmental organisations have succeeded in planting a deep disgust towards any kind of hunting. Even the directors of museums and galleries have put themselves unconditionally in the power of these organizations so that this theme is banned from public museums and galleries.”
Kruse sees the problem as a result of views from urban people completely out of touch with nature.
“Animals bleed when they are slaughtered. That’s a fact. Pilot whales are slaughtered in less than 10 seconds. Compare that with the life and slaughtering of chickens and pigs and you’ll come up with an interesting perspective”.

Ian O`Riordan, director of The City Art Centre in Edinburgh, is one of those sceptical to the title.
“We did not accept the exhibition because we don’t have the space for it. But if we, hypothetically speaking, had the space I would have thought about the potential problems the title could cause before accepting it. I would have needed to seek the views of colleagues, and I guess the elected members of the council would have had something to say about this. The issue of hunting, just the word really, has become a political issue in the UK. We have an active animal rights movement, and a title like that could cause problems”.

In Aberdeen the problems were similar.
“The Cultural Services Promotions Officer and Curator of the Art Gallery in Aberdeen advised me that some of her Aberdeen colleagues did have problems with the subject and content of the exhibition. This is the reason we were offered a smaller venue in the Marischal Museum at the University of Aberdeen”, says Birgir Kruse.

In Shetland the reception was better as the exhibition will be shown in an arrangement with the Bonhoga Galleries in Lerwick.

What the British are afraid to touch, the Irish have taken to their hearts. In Dublin the exhibition will be shown in the National Museum in the heart of the capital.

Kelda: Spiked-online, her frá www.highnorth.no