UK News: Controversial Exhibition ‘Exhibit B’ (Human Zoo) SHUT DOWN!

Exhibit B protesters

Photograph: Thabo Jaiyesimi/Demotix/Corbis

This news has made my day.

Thanks to Sara Myer’s successful online petition and the protests that followed, the Barbican had no choice last night but to cancel the controversial exhibition ‘Exhibit B’ (Human Zoo).

Via The Guardian

A controversial art exhibition featuring black actors chained and in cages to depict the horror of slavery has been closed by the Barbican gallery following a vociferous campaign of protest. Officials from the arts venue decided to end an impasse with demonstrators who on Tuesday evening greeted the opening of Brett Bailey’s Exhibit B at the Vaults in south London by blockading both the entrance and the road leading to the building.

Two hundred protesters with drums and placards demonstrated outside, prompting the attendance of officers from both the Metropolitan police and British transport police. The officers were summoned to address reports of a disturbance, but made no arrests. The event was quickly cancelled. The installation, which garnered acclaim and brickbats on display in Edinburgh, was due to remain open in London until Saturday.

Its abandonment was hailed as a victory by campaigners who claimed 20,000 signatures on a protest petition against what they called “complicit racism”. But the move is bound to prompt fresh discussion about the extent to which artists can legitimately use shock and graphic images to make points and address controversial issues. Continue Reading….

The Barbican issued the following statement:

“Due to the extreme nature of the protest outside the Vaults, regrettably we have cancelled this evening’s performance of Exhibit B as we could not guarantee the safety of performers, audiences and staff. We respect people’s right to protest but are disappointed that this was not done in a peaceful way as had been previously promised by campaigners.”

STOP right there! You are trying to be slick here Barbican by giving the impression, along with the mainstream media, that this was not a peaceful protest. There was no violence and no one was arrested. Don’t even try it.

South African artist Brett Bailey

South African artist Brett Bailey

CLICK HERE to read full interview with ‘Exhibit B’ director/artist Brett Bailey.

Excerpt from the  interview/article:

Bailey is an uneasy, almost abrasive presence, making unhelpful comments about the revealing nature of the costumes and spouting the n-word provocatively in his clipped South African intonation. “He’s a badass! He gets it done,” says Cole Verhoeven, a previous performer, hinting that his spikiness may be a strategy to weed out the non-committal. “His intention is clear. And our intentions had to be clear in order to do the work with any authenticity.”

But when one of the female performers breaks down in tears due to the intensity of the process, Bailey is quick to move in with gentle reassurance.

I am so glad this mess has been shut down.

I want to know what Bret Bailey’s  real motives are behind ‘Exhibit B’. A man who grew up under the evil apartheid regime and benefited from it.

And as for black actors like Cole Verhoeven (you are a fool)  who signed on to take part in the exhibition and then defended it to the death, I wish you all the best of luck with your future endeavors.

The woman who started the ball rolling, journalist and activist Sara Myers. Photo Credit: Mike Blythe

The woman who started the ball rolling, journalist and activist Sara Myers. Photo Credit: Mike Blythe

Well done to journalist and activist Sara Myers who lit a fire under Brett Bailey and the Barbican, well done to all those who signed the online petition, and well done to those who protested outside the Barbican last night and stood firm. 

In celebration of this triumph and people power, a Public Enemy classic. 

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September 2014
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