Ayesha's Blog

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Exhibit B

24 September

Exhibit B” (by Brett Bailey) was due to open at the Barbican in London, despite all the protests against it.

“Exhibit B critiques the ‘human zoos’ and ethnographic displays that showed Africans as objects of scientific curiosity through the 19th and early 20th centuries. Translated here into twelve tableaux, each features motionless performers placed in settings drawn from real life. Collectively they confront colonial atrocities committed in Africa, European notions of racial supremacy and the plight of immigrants today.

As spectators walk past the exhibits one-by-one, to the sound of lamentations sung live by a Namibian choir, a human gaze is unexpectedly returned.”

I expect it’s very disturbing. However, since the aim of it is to look at and examine what really happened, I don’t think it is racist as the protesters say…these performers are performing to give the audience an experience of reality, they are not being exploited. I think it’s right for art to replicate atrocities  – it will I hope help raise awareness and empathy. How is it different from a film/TV series like “12 Years a Slave”or “Roots”? But anyway that’s my view and here’s a strong voice, Esther Stanford-Xose, speaking from another viewpoint in protest against Exhibit B:

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