Should Human Zoo Be Boycotted?

Later this month the Barbican in London is scheduled to host an exhibition that replicates the “human zoos” of earlier colonial times. A national campaign, organized by Birmingham-based Sara Myers, calls for “Exhibit B,” by South African Brett Bailey, to be cancelled on the grounds that it reinforces, rather than challenges the racism it stands as a commentary on. Kehinde Andrews says: ‘The censorship of art makes people uncomfortable – and for good reasons. However, art is not beyond censorship when offensive in nature. Freedom of expression does not mean licence to racially abuse…”Exhibit B” is offensive because it perpetuates the objectification of the black body that is a standard trope of society. A performer when the show ran in Poland had the experience of a group of men “laughing and making comments about my boobs and my body. They didn’t realise I was a human being. They thought I was a statue.”’

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