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September 15, 2014

'Human Zoo' puts Africans on display for colonial-era exhibit

Exhibition highlighting colonial-era installations of Africans as objects of study, accused of racism.

Screenshot via Vimeo 'Exhibit B- created by Brett Bailey'

A London exhibit meant to critique 19th century 'human zoos' shows African actors in chains and glass boxes. The attempt to highlight the colonial-era treatment of Africans is gathering criticism for what many say is its racist content. 

Exhibit B in The Barbican Centre, opening at the end of September, asks viewers to "confront colonial atrocities committed in Africa, European notions of racial supremacy and the plight of immigrants today". Many, however, are protesting the exhibit, saying the irony gets lost with this form of representation. 

South African Brett Bailey conceived the exhibit after he read a book called Africans on Stage that described the 19th century 'human zoos'. The videos below show images from Exhibit B along with descriptions.