Wednesday, 17 September 2014
BLACK ACTIVISTS RISING AGAINST CUTS (BARAC) UK
17 September 2014
Boycott the Human Zoo; 1 Million Rising
From Tuesday 23rd of September to Saturday 27th of September a picket will take place each day, between the hours of 5.30pm to 10pm at The Vaults, to coincide with showings of Exhibit B, Third World Bun Fight, by Brett Bailey, which is hosted by The Barbican. Protestors will assemble at the main entrance to Waterloo Rail Station, SE1 8SW.
BARAC UK is one of several organisations forming the campaign boycotting the exhibition and BARAC representatives and members will be participating in the protests at The Vaults.
Zita Holbourne, National Co-Chair BARAC UK said;
“You don’t tackle the legacy of racism or current racism by re-enacting racist atrocities. Contrary to the claim by The Barbican that Exhibit B is empowering and educational, it is impossible for the descendants of racism created through colonial rule, Empire and enslavement to be empowered by seeing black people caged, chained, blacked up, tortured and murdered. As a visual artist and curator, I create and exhibit art that both challenges racism and promotes equality. This exhibition does neither. Those of us who have a lived experience of racism do not need educating on racism. It is an absolute disgrace in our Capital city that this exhibition was agreed without consulting black communities on how it would be received and with complete disregard for the pain and anger it is causing. It is indicative of the deepening institutional racism we experience.”
Lee Jasper, National Co-Chair BARAC UK said;
“Here in London, a city that is 40% non- white, we have a strong and powerful tradition of black self- organisation and anti- racism. Brett Bailey or the Barbican could have at any time, spoken to a wide range of organisations, prior to putting on the show, in an effort to seek their views; they choose not to do so and to add insult to injury. We believe this Human Zoo to be racist in conceptualisation and presentation. It is an exercise in white privilege and power which should have been challenged when it was suggested it be hosted in London, rather than being supported by The Barbican and The City of London Corporation. Failure to withdraw will lead not only to a boycott of Exhibit B but of The Barbican as an organisation”
From 23 to 27 September, The Barbican will host Exhibit B, by Brett Bailey, at The Vaults in Waterloo.
Exhibit B is a re-enactment of the Victoria human zoo, using black people to act as exhibits subjected to racist torture and murder. The exhibits include black ‘actors’; a woman in shackles, waiting to be raped, a man in an iron mask, people in cages, ‘blacked up’ and in plane seats being murdered. The exhibition objectifies black people in an offensive and degrading way. The Exhibition is racist and hurtful and has been met with outrage by black communities and the wider public. A coalition of organisations including BARAC UK, representing over 1 million members in addition to the 21,000 plus people who have signed the online petition are calling for the exhibition to be withdrawn by The Barbican who are hosting it.
An open letter to the City of London Corporation, by BARAC UK, led to a meeting with members of The Barbican Board and management on 11th September, who refused to withdraw from hosting. A lobby of the City of London Council took place on the same day and a March and rally outside The Barbican with speakers and performers took place on 13 September. At the meeting on the 11th the Campaign requested a senior member to receive the petition on the 13th which was acknowledged. Despite at least one Board member being present at the Barbican on the day of the rally, only security staff were made available to accept the petition. As a result of this another protest took place on 16th September and the petition was handed in to a Board member.
Contact: Zita Holbourne, National Co-Chair BARAC UK, Campaign Press Officer.
Tel. 07711 861660
Monday, 15 September 2014
|Protestors outside Guildhall|
|Image by Zita Holbourne|
As a result of the open letter that BARAC UK sent to the Chief Executive of the Corporation, a meeting was facilitated between campaigners and members of The Barbican Board and Management. At this meeting we informed The Barbican that we would be handing in the petition of over 20,000 signatures that Saturday and requested that a senior officer received it. This was acknowledged.
|Lobbying the City of London Corporation (with representatives of Unite the Union, BARAC UK & BEMA)|
On Saturday 12th of September protesters marched to The Barbican for a rally outside before the planned petition hand in. The organisations represented not only on the day but who have signed up to the campaign represent over a million in addition to the 20,000 plus who have signed the petition. Speeches and performers were accompanied by drummers. Children and adults carried banners with the words ' I am somebody' and 'I am not an object on them'.
|March to The Barbican|
Tafadwa ShakaRa Mbandaka performed the opening libations, the proceedings were compered by Paul Lawrence. There were poetry performances by Akala, Zita Holbourne (Co-Chair BARAC UK) & Anthony Anaxagorou and speeches by Sara Myers (Petition author), Zita Holbourne, PCS & TUC Race Relations Committee, Donna Guthrie (Unite), Lee Jasper, Co-Chair BARAC UK, Kehinde Andrews, OBU, Austin Harney, CRAIC, Paul Richards, UpRise and Hilary Mohammed, Nation of Islam. People were drawn out of the Barbican and surrounding businesses by the presence and sound of the protest.
A video of the rally can be viewed here.
|Lee Jasper, co-chair of BARAC speaks|
Disgracefully when it came to the point of handing in the petition, The Barbican failed to provide a senior representative to receive it, despite the discussions with them on Thursday about this and despite the fact that a senior Board member had been visible during the protest, viewing proceedings from a balcony. Instead they sent as their representative, the Head of Security who acted with hostility. As a result, it was agreed that the petition would not be handed in that day and a subsequent event would be organised for the hand in.
|Zita Holbourne, Co-Chair of BARAC performs poetry|
|Donna Guthrie, Unite member & BARAC Women's Officer|
Brett Bailey's Human Zoo is neither art nor empowering. Yet this is what The Barbican have tried to tell us, that if we were to attend it, we would be empowered and educated. Quite clearly those of us that have a lived experience of racism do not need educating about racism and we are certainly not going to feel empowered by a re-enactment of historic or current racism. Last week I wrote for The Voice Newspaper on this; Read here.
|image by Zita Holbourne|
In fact, when we met with the predominantly white (just one black member) Barbican Board and Management and asked them how many of them had seen the exhibition, only one had, so it's laughable that they should try to 'educate' anti racist and black community organisations about racism through this horrendous exhibition.
The campaign continues and we will continue to call for the only positive solution to this horrific display of racism, masquerading as a creative artistic expression, a boycott on not just Exhibit B, which will be shown at The Vaults but on The Barbican itself. Critics of our opposition have claimed that we are calling for censorship of art. A boycott is not censorship. The successful Boycott Campaign against apartheid in South Africa included artists, musicians and sports people amongst others.
Sign the petition here
Thursday, 11 September 2014
Thursday, 4 September 2014
MOUNTING PRESSURE ON THE BARBICAN AS THE CITY OF LONDON CORPORATION RESPONDS TO OUR OPEN LETTER
Pressure is mounting on The Barbican from a growing number of organisations and individuals outraged by the arts venue's decision to host the offensive Exhibit B, designed by white South African, Brett Bailey. Over 15,000 people have signed an online petition calling on the Barbican to withdraw from hosting the exhibition.
A coalition of organisations have come together to campaign against the exhibition together with the petition author, Sara Myers. This includes BARAC UK, OBV, BEMA, UpRise, Unite the Union, PCS union, NUS Black Students Campaign, OBU, Legali, DLA & YEMANJA & BEF.
On 2nd September, as The Barbican had failed to respond to our second letter to them, BARAC sent an open letter to the City of London Corporation, which owns The Barbican.
On 4 September we received the following response from The City Corporation Chief Executive:
Dear Ms Holbourne
Firstly, let me assure you that your concerns in relation to the presentation by the Barbican Centre of Exhibit B are taken seriously. The City Corporation, and in turn the Barbican Centre Board, recognise the strength of feeling in relation to Exhibit B. It tackles controversial and sensitive issues and has rightly initiated intense debate.
There is no mechanism for the public to directly address the Court of Common Council. Given the timing of the Court of Common Council meeting, and that the next meeting of the Barbican Centre Board takes place after Exhibit B, and the strength of feeling on this issue, we would be able to arrange a meeting between you and representatives from the Barbican Centre Board and management to discuss the issues raised by Exhibit B in advance of 23 September.
Yours sincerely,John Barradell
We have written back to Mr Barradell setting out the terms of any meeting to take place.
|If We Stand for Nothing, We Fall for Anything, by Zita Holbourne|
We invite you to join us at two protests next week as follows:
We plan to lobby the City of London Corporation Court of Common Council taking place on Thursday 11 Sept at 1pm, assembling 12.15pm. The address is: Great Hall, Guildhall Yard, London, EC2V 5. Join the Facebook event for details and updates.
On Saturday 13th of Sept we will be staging an event at The Barbican to hand in the petition, assembling at 1pm. The address is: The Barbican Exhibition Centre, London, EC1Y0. Join the Facebook event for details and updates.
If UK arts institutions wish to explore the histories of black people, they need to understand and acknowledge that our story did not begin with enslavement, colonial rule, apartheid and segregation. They need to understand that the atrocities that were inflicted on us are not us. They must acknowledge that the objectification of us during periods of history cannot be addressed by repeating this objectification and labelling it art. Contrary to The Barbican's claim that doing this is empowering, it is in fact about power and privilege. It devalues and undermines our worth in a degrading way. Our lives, histories, struggles and successes cannot be understood by the recreating of a human zoo.
As an artist and curator, I create and promote art that challenges racism but also promotes equality. I am the curator of the Roots, Culture, Identity Art Exhibition
which is currently on tour and showcases the art of young black artists.
|From the collection 'Still Rising, Still Shining' by Zita Holbourne|
Here is an extract of the Press Release for the exhibition which will be hosted by the Public and Commercial Services later this month:
Zita Holbourne, curator, artist and an elected member of the TUC Race Relations Committee said; ‘Following the racist murder of Stephen Lawrence, the TUC set up a Task Group to examine institutional racism and one of the agreed actions was to make the Marble Hall at Congress House available to showcase the talents of young Black people. I am delighted to be curating this exhibition and that the Race Relations Commmitee is giving an opportunity to young Black artists to share their talents with a wider audience. Young black people are impacted negatively and disproportionately on multiple grounds by austerity, both in the labour market and by cuts to arts funding. It’s important to nurture the extraordinary talent that exists in our communities, now more than ever. Such talent and the important messages and ideas about the world we live communicated through art, need to be shared, understood and celebrated.’
|Rise Up Against Racism, by Zita Holbourne|
Brett Bailey's exhibition does nothing to address the institutional racism, amplified by austerity that black people face today in the UK or to celebrate our achievements throughout history or today.
Zita Holbourne, Campaign Press Officer,
National Co-Chair BARAC UK.
Scroll down for Boycott the Human Zoo Campaign connectivity and Press contacts