Whose history is it anyway? The case of Exhibit B

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Abstract

In 2014, Brett Bailey’s Exhibit B site-specific installation created a media storm and protests throughout Europe. One such protest was in London, leading to the cancellation of his show at the Barbican. Consternation caused by art work is not a new phenomenon, and indeed one of the enduring purposes of art is to push the boundaries of acceptability and to show sights that are normally kept hidden from the public gaze. From some of the Impressionists’ exhibits to twentieth century art works such as Andres Serrano’s Piss Christ in 1987 and Chris Ofili’s The Holy Virgin Mary 1996, art has caused offence in a variety of ways. This article examines Exhibit B to identify the reasons for its reception. In broad outline, as a white artist his presentation of black oppression was regarded at best as naïve and at worse as culturally inappropriate.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)27-38
Number of pages12
JournalJournal for Cultural Research
Volume22
Issue number1
Early online date24 Jan 2018
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Externally publishedYes

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