Catholic blood exhibition opens in Londonderry

By Andy Martin
BBC Ireland reporter

image captionArtist Andrei Molodkin is pumping blood donated solely by Catholics for his installation

A controversial contemporary artist from Russia will open his exhibition Catholic Blood at the Void gallery in Londonderry on Saturday.

Andrei Molodkin, who intends to boil human cadavers for future exhibitions, has already signed up volunteers who will donate their blood for the unusual installation.

The pumps are already popping in the basement room of the Void Gallery in Derry, circulating blood around his replica of the rose window at Westminster Abbey. The window is seen by Molodkin as a Protestant symbol.

In the adjoining room he has created a sculpture based on the rose window at the Houses of Parliament.

According to the artist's interpretation of the British constitutional tradition, a British prime minister must be Protestant, a tradition he hopes to highlight, and query.

Mr Molodkin has chosen to pump blood donated solely by Catholics through these symbols to illustrate the point.


He has done it before, in Russia he mixed the blood of Russian soldiers with Chechen oil, and was censured by the authorities.

Emer Grant from the Void said the general reaction to the exhibition has been "why would you do that?"

The artist is clear. "If I ask for both Catholic and Protestant blood, it means that they can do equal things, that everything is good here and everything has happened well," Mr Molodkin said.

"But when I ask only for Catholic blood and I pump it in the Protestant symbols, it allows for more discussions on it, or more open context."

So is he trying to shock, or court controversy?

"No," the artist says.

"I think it is beautiful, it is not controversial because it is mixing a Protestant symbol with Catholic blood'.

image captionThe exhibition is at the Void gallery

Dr Bob Morris, from University College London, is an expert in constitutional affairs.

He disputes this interpretation of the constitutional position and believes there is little substance to the assertion that the prime minister must be Protestant.


"Yes, but there have been no Catholic prime ministers," Mr Molodkin responds.

"Perhaps when we talk about it, we will get one."

Maoliosa Boyle, one of the curators at the Void gallery, says they have developed a reputation for taking on very challenging and controversial works.

"It is fantastic to get Andrei here.

"People take offence at many things, it is hard to predict what the audience feedback will be, difficult to say," she said.

Andrei Molodkin describes himself as a utopian thinker.

He hopes people will come away from his exhibition thinking liberally: "That they want to be together and don't have reason to fight".