- By Brett Bailey
Brett Bailey’s astonishing and disturbing ‘human installation’ that charts a river of racism running through European ethnographic displays and human zoos, and the scientific racism that spanned the late 19th and early 20th centuries. and the current policies towards African immigrants in Europe.
Works in this series are touring across Europe and in South Africa and Australia in 2013/14 – see the bottom of this page for details.
This is an expanding series of works: EXHIBIT B looks at the atrocities committed by colonial forces in German South West Africa and in the Belgian and French Congos, the plight of African immigrants living in – and deported from – Europe, the cold horror of Apartheid, and for the Holland Festival (2013) will include an installation referencing the colonial and slaving histories of the Netherlands.
EXHIBIT C (2015) will build on EXHIBIT B to include the British, Portuguese and Italian colonial excursions in Africa.
Spectators enter the site-specific location one-by-one and travel through the rooms of the exhibition. The performers, trapped in tableaux vivants, stare back. In Vienna the work was presented in an abandoned wing of the ethnographic museum in the Hoffburg Palace, in Braunschweig in an underground ice store, and in Brussels in a ruined gothic church.
The work is performed by a choir of 4 Namibian singers, and 14-16 African immigrants seekers living in the host city.
2014 TOUR DATES
Edinburgh - Edinburgh International Festival, Playfair Library: 9, 10, 12, 13, 15, 16 ,17,19 ,20 ,22 ,23 ,24, 25 August
London - Barbican Theatre: 23, 24, 25, 26, 27 September
Moscow - Museum of Modern Art, Territoria Festival: 10, 11, 12, 13, 14 October
Poitiers - TAP: 14, 15, 16 November
Paris - Theatre Gerard Philippe de Saint-Denis: 27, 28, 29, 30 November
Paris - Le 104: 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, 13, 14, 15 December
‘ That Bailey has managed to negotiate this problematic and highly sensitive arena with almost faultless judgment is deserving of extraordinary praise. He has learned from previous miscalculations, such as his production of Safari, which was patronisingly praised by European audiences. This time the knives are out and Bailey subversively turns exotic spectacle on its head. His brave hosts at the Wiener Festwochen have given him artistic free rein. ’MAIL AND GUARDIAN
‘terrible and magnificent… should run for several months so that all government ministers and scholars can attend.’LE SOIR
‘This is one of the most uncomfortable pieces of art or theatre you may ever be exposed to’THE HERALD
‘ Only when I start to pull away from the room, does the woman catch my eye. She shifts, staring at me directly: she hooks into me. A bit like the Grant Lee Buffalo song ‘these are the hooks that bind us’. Indeed I’m bound. Bound to return the gaze, bound to drop my eyes quickly in my own guilt, as a white person, as hundreds of years of history, colonization overwhelm me. My implication by nature of my race, and my white ancestry, is explicit in that moment of objectification. ’CLASSIC FEEL MAGAZINE
‘How can one small exhibition about our colonial history hit harder than an entire year full of activities around the fiftieth anniversary of Congolese independence last year?’LA LIBRE BELGIQUE
‘EXHIBIT B, an emotional shock that the whole of Avignon has been speaking about since it opened on Friday 12 July... The atmosphere of meditation in the Eglise des Celestins, the magnificent music by Namibian composer Marcellinus Swartbooi, inspired by traditional songs of lamentation, all combine to make EXHIBIT B a grand ceremony, between revelation and prayer.’LE MONDE
‘an extraordinary achievement’PETER BROOK
- 2010 – Wiener Festwochen (Vienna); Theaterformen Festival (Hannover)
- 2011 – Kiasma Centre (Helsinki)
- 2012 – Kunsten Festival des Arts in partnership with KVS (Brussels); National Arts Festival (Grahamstown); Berliner Festspiele (Berlin)
- 2013 – Holland Festival (Amsterdam); Vooruit Centre (Ghent); Avignon Festival; Le 104 (Paris); le Maillon (Strasbourg)