Artist to turn death row inmate into fish food

A Denmark-based artist is planning to use the body of a Texas murderer as fish food for an installation in Germany after the man is executed. The project aims to spark debate about capital punishment, he told The Local.

Artist to turn death row inmate into fish food
Photo: DPA

Confessed triple-murderer Gene Hathorn has willed his body to artist Marco Evaristti, who plans to freeze dry the corpse and have exhibition visitors feed it to a tank of goldfish.

“This may seem obscene,” Evaristti told The Local of the idea he conceived in April. “But I don’t think there is anything wrong with this kind of art piece. If you kill people with the authorization of the state it is a heady matter, and to make fish food with a dead body that is going to rot six feet under anyway is not such a big deal.”

Goldfish have a particular relevance to Evaristti’s message against what he calls “state authorized homicide.” In 2000, he made headlines with a controversial installation of 10 functioning blenders containing live goldfish in Denmark.

“The new idea is to turn it around,” Evaristti said. “If you were against killing the fish in the blender, think about what will happen if the fish don’t eat. The audience has to participate to be human by giving food to the fish if they are good people, otherwise it will be a big fish cemetery.”

Evarissti has been to visit Hathorn, 47, at his Livingston, Texas prison four times, and says he will attend his execution, which is pending a final appeal. The two have developed a personal relationship and correspond regularly by mail, Evarissti said.

The Chilean artist, who is known for making meatballs out of his own fat and serving them to a dinner party in 2007, hopes to exhibit the new work in Germany because it has the most powerful “avant-garde” influence in the European art community. He said he has had several offers from public institutions, which he prefers to more elite galleries.

“It is important to show the work where the audience is normal, and maybe don’t normally go to exhibitions,” he said. “It’s important that it’s not just the elite, but those who get a political vote on issues like these.”

He also hopes to bring the installation to New York so that a US audience can contemplate capital punishment, he said.

There has been some question as to whether the donation of Hathorn’s body for such a purpose is legal, but Evarissti says he believes there won’t be a problem after discussing the matter with Texas authorities.

“Normally the inmates donate their bodies to science experiments, and this is kind of an art experiment,” he said.


Germany in talks on further payout for 1972 Olympics victims

The German government says it is in talks over further compensation for victims of the attack on the Munich Olympics, as the 50th anniversary of the atrocity approaches.

Germany in talks on further payout for 1972 Olympics victims

Ahead of the commemoration in September, relatives of the Israelis killed have indicated they are unhappy with what Germany is offering.

“Conversations based on trust are taking place with representatives of the victims’ families,” a German interior ministry spokesman told AFP when asked about the negotiations.

He did not specify who would benefit or how much money had been earmarked, saying only that any package would “again” be financed by the federal government, the state of Bavaria and the city of Munich.

On September 5th, 1972, eight gunmen broke into the Israeli team’s flat at the Olympic village, shooting dead two and taking nine Israelis hostage, threatening to kill them unless 232 Palestinian prisoners were released.

West German police responded with a bungled rescue operation in which all nine hostages were killed, along with five of the eight hostage-takers and a police officer.

An armed police officer in a tracksuit secures the block where terrorists  held Israeli hostages at the Olympic Village in Munich on 5th September 1972.

An armed police officer in a tracksuit secures the block where terrorists held Israeli hostages at the Olympic Village in Munich on 5th September 1972. Photo: picture alliance / dpa | Horst Ossingert

The spokeswoman for the victims’ families, Ankie Spitzer, told the German media group RND that the amount currently on the table was “insulting” and threatened a boycott of this year’s commemorations.

She said Berlin was offering a total of €10 million including around €4.5 million already provided in compensation between 1972 and 2002 — an amount she said did not correspond to international standards. 

“We are angry and disappointed,” said Spitzer, the widow of fencing coach Andre Spitzer who was killed in the attack. “We never wanted to talk publicly about money but now we are forced to.”

RND reported that the German and Israeli governments would like to see an accord by August 15th.

The interior ministry spokesman said that beyond compensation, Germany intended to use the anniversary for fresh “historical appraisal, remembrance and recognition”.

He said this would include the formation of a commission of German and Israeli historians to “comprehensively” establish what happened “from the perspective of the year 2022”.

This would lead to “an offer of further acts of acknowledgement of the relatives of the victims of the attack” and the “grave consequences” they suffered.