Feeding a Murderer to Goldfish and Calling it “Art”

Will the goldfish have any scruples in regards to their dinner?

As art zooms past the Postmodern little is left other than grand tableauxs or art that intends to shock. Chilean artist and Danish resident Marco Evaristti manages to cover both those bases successfully. One need only to take a look at his work entitled “Ice Cube Project” in which he:

….was to paint the exposed tip of a small iceberg red. This took place on March 24, in Kangia fjord near Ilullissat, Greenland. With two icebreakers and a twenty-man crew, Evaristti used three fire hoses and 3,000 litres (790 US gallons) of paint to color the iceberg blood-red. The artist commented that, “We all have a need to decorate Mother Nature because it belongs to all us.”

Ice Cube Project

Now he’s returning to a familiar device: live goldfish. This time though, the goldfish won’t be harmed but rather will be fed. And what will they be fed? Why they’ll be fed an executed murderer named Gene Hathorn.

A convict on death row in America has agreed to let his body be made into a work of art if his final appeal against execution fails.

Gene Hathorn, who has been on death row since 1985, has given his consent for artist Marco Evaristti, the bad boy of the Danish art scene, to use his body as an art installation.

“My aim is to first deep freeze Gene’s body and then make fish food out of it. Visitors to my exhibition will be able to feed goldfish with it,” Evaristti told the Art Newspaper.


The artist has visited Hathorn, 47, at his prison in Texas several times in the last year, and hopes this work will go on to form part of his wider project against capital punishment, which has included designing clothes for prisoners to wear on their execution day.

Evaristti does not think his plan is unethical. “The real problem is legally killing people,” he said.


Hathorn has been awaiting execution after being found guilty of the murder of his father, stepmother and stepbrother in 1985.

Gene Hathorn
Gene Hathorn – willing goldfish food

Evaristti’s stated intention is to shock so as to bring attention to capital punishment which does show a social conscience in his work. The question remains though as to whether how much of his work is showmanship and how much of it is actual social activism.

Marco Evaristti, shock artist and social activist

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