Throughout the period of European imperialism the non Western body was stripped naked, displayed, exploited and exposed to the fantasising gaze of westerners. The racial stereotypes arising from such dehumanising practices were used to legitimise the atrocities committed during the European expansion in Africa. These racist memes continue to confirm the way Africans and other non-western people are treated in the west.
In this human exhibition Brett Bailey struggles with this unsettling history. His methodology is to face the discomfort eye-to-eye. Bailey himself is not free from the disquiet he evokes. It is precisely this uneasy tension that demonstrates the ubiquity of the mechanisms of power. The urgency of his approach stems not from the pedagogic need to discuss the pass, but from the necessity to fully comprehend the world we live in today. As soon as the audience entry the exhibition space, they are immersed in a site of history, a history of now and here, from which nobody is free.
For my response to critiques on the piece please read the debate between myself and Kehinde Andrews here.