Événements

Uncomfortable truths – Les vérités gênantes
l’empreinte de l’esclavage sur l’art et le design

Français

Featuring 11 international artists ((El Anatsui, Anissa-Jane, Michael Paul Britto, Tapfuma Gutsa, Romuald Hazoumé, Lubaina Himid, Christine Meisner, Keith Piper, Yinka Shonibare MBE, Julien Sinzogan, Fred Wilson), a series of contemporary works in the Museum’s galleries and public spaces raise questions about the haunting and ambiguous legacies of slavery.

« Britain’s 2007 commemoration of the Parliamentary abolition of the transatlantic slave trade is important, but not unproblematic.

This exhibition raises many questions, to which there may be no definitive answers: why is slavery so often discussed as something disconnected from the present? Why is transatlantic slavery seen as a black issue rather than a human one, by blacks as well as whites? Why does it take arbitrary anniversaries to bring these issues to the fore? How do we understand the roles of the perpetrators and the victims from our standpoint in the present? What can we learn from the history of resistance to slavery? How has slavery contributed to the benefit – and detriment – of the world we live in now? And, how has this institution, like many others, profited from the wealth generated through slave trading?

These questions all address Uncomfortable Truths, which are explored in this exhibition via the works of eleven international artists. Displayed throughout the V&A’s permanent collection galleries and other public spaces, the interventions create a visual dialogue between historic design objects, many rooted in imperialism, and compelling, emotive examples of recent art and design. These creative expressions form a bridge between the safe and anodyne and the unspeakable and indescribable.

Disparate in perspective, execution and intent, the works in Uncomfortable Truths are united by a sense of resistance – not strictly to do with slave rebellion, but in that they resist conventional categorisation: no unthinking sentimentality, unilateral outlooks or easy conclusions. Displacement, moral corruption, and genocide are only part of the story. We must also speak of survival, redemption and the power of collective memory.

A topic like this one cannot be fully explored in one exhibition. The impact of slavery cannot be confined to history books and it is not a subject whose complexities we can ignore. It is my hope that the beautiful, stark and provocative work in this exhibition will incite ongoing scholarship, debate and creativity. »

Zoé Whitley, Exhibition Curator

English

Featuring 11 international artists ((El Anatsui, Anissa-Jane, Michael Paul Britto, Tapfuma Gutsa, Romuald Hazoumé, Lubaina Himid, Christine Meisner, Keith Piper, Yinka Shonibare MBE, Julien Sinzogan, Fred Wilson), a series of contemporary works in the Museum’s galleries and public spaces raise questions about the haunting and ambiguous legacies of slavery.

« Britain’s 2007 commemoration of the Parliamentary abolition of the transatlantic slave trade is important, but not unproblematic.

This exhibition raises many questions, to which there may be no definitive answers: why is slavery so often discussed as something disconnected from the present? Why is transatlantic slavery seen as a black issue rather than a human one, by blacks as well as whites? Why does it take arbitrary anniversaries to bring these issues to the fore? How do we understand the roles of the perpetrators and the victims from our standpoint in the present? What can we learn from the history of resistance to slavery? How has slavery contributed to the benefit – and detriment – of the world we live in now? And, how has this institution, like many others, profited from the wealth generated through slave trading?

These questions all address Uncomfortable Truths, which are explored in this exhibition via the works of eleven international artists. Displayed throughout the V&A’s permanent collection galleries and other public spaces, the interventions create a visual dialogue between historic design objects, many rooted in imperialism, and compelling, emotive examples of recent art and design. These creative expressions form a bridge between the safe and anodyne and the unspeakable and indescribable.

Disparate in perspective, execution and intent, the works in Uncomfortable Truths are united by a sense of resistance – not strictly to do with slave rebellion, but in that they resist conventional categorisation: no unthinking sentimentality, unilateral outlooks or easy conclusions. Displacement, moral corruption, and genocide are only part of the story. We must also speak of survival, redemption and the power of collective memory.

A topic like this one cannot be fully explored in one exhibition. The impact of slavery cannot be confined to history books and it is not a subject whose complexities we can ignore. It is my hope that the beautiful, stark and provocative work in this exhibition will incite ongoing scholarship, debate and creativity. »

Zoé Whitley, Exhibition Curator