Art Exhibition Canceled After Racial Claims

by rumibarua on September 30, 2014 - 2:32pm

“A Racially Charged Exhibition in London Is Canceled After Protests” is an article written by Doreen Carvajal, printed in The New York Times on September 24th 2014. The article discusses how a new art exhibition in London had to shut its door due to many protestors believing the artwork being featured was filled with racist ideals. Created by the South African theater director Brett Bailey, the works of art were black actors that were presented in cages and shackles to re-create how caged up humans were in the 19th century. The show was supposed to have a grand opening. However, about 200 petitioners gathered outside the theater to demand for its cancellation. They argued that the work of art presented was incredibly racist and soon enough, the actors would feel like animals trapped in a zoo. The theater director tried justifying his actions by explaining that his exhibit was to show the way in which modern-day minorities are getting dehumanized. As sum, the exhibit has started many controversies in other cities. As such, it is not sure how the cancellation of the show in London is going to have an effect on the future tour dates for other countries.

In my opinion, the article written by Doreen Carvajal demonstrates how people try to run away from racism without accepting it as a social problem. The art exhibit directed by Brett Bailey was simply meant to create awareness for the racial issues that minority groups have to go through on a daily basis. He was not trying to come off as promoting racist ideals but he was simply trying to show them to make people realize what goes on in the every day world. In class, we saw many different advertisements that came off as being racist. For example, the spider campaign that was stereotypical because it resembled an angry looking black man with dreadlocks. However, that image was not creating any type of message unlike the art exhibition in London. Bailey was trying to creatively express his opinions in the best way he knew how. He was not trying to seem insulting in any way; he was trying to send a message to everyone that viewed his artwork. In addition, I feel like he succeeded because now many cities are having debates over his exhibitions and even controversies are building up over them. In the second Jane Elliot video, we viewed how one of the participants that were blue-eyed stormed off because they could not deal with being criticized any longer. Similarly, the protestors for the exhibition did not want to witness racism anymore. As a result, they were gathering together outside of the opening to make it stop. Instead of facing the issue and learning from it, they chose to try to put an end to it without taking the time to realize that it was only to create awareness for what was going on in the world. The same could be seen when the blue-eyed girl refused to apologize for storming off during the study. Above all, art is meant to express yourself or send a message about something you strongly believe in. Bailey was doing so with his art exhibition. Thus, I agree with the way he drastically took measures on his own just like Jane Elliot. The audience might have disagreed and took it too strongly but to get a point across and make a difference, it is essential to step out of the box and be different. In this case, the art director showed vivid reenacting of racism.

With this in mind, I thoroughly enjoyed reading the article written by Doreen Carvajal. It had many strong points in my opinion. To start with, it was not long nor was it too short. The length was good and the content was to the point without beating around the bush. In addition, the vocabulary was extremely easy to understand and it was captivating. The words were enriched but still easy to understand. It was an article that I liked reading line by line and it had a catchy title, hence why I picked it. The author shows excellent examples of how the protestors felt with specific quotes while also showing the counter-arguments that the exhibition director used. However, it would have been better if the author could specify who the protestors were specifically in order to have a better understanding of the article. Also, it would help if we knew what exactly were they protesting for. We know that they want to cancel the exhibition for racial rights but we should know what rights are they fighting for exactly. In sum, the article had many good points but it would be better if some of the details were explained more thoroughly.

Carvajal, D. (2014). A racially charged exhibition in london Is canceled after protests. The New York Times. Retrieved from



I have to admit that the reason why I choose your post was because the topic looked very interesting. I have never heard about this protest and article that has been happing in London. I strongly agree with you that many people escape the fact that there is still racism today and don’t view is as a social proleme. It is a very serious subject. Again I still agree with you that Brett Bailey should have been allowed to express this issue that is around the world, especially that he does it in a different way. I have never seen awareness about racial thoughts or acts into a form of art. We are in a world where many racist ideologies are being done with out even acknowledging the real problem. Although your post had many great points the class description part is something that not everyone has seen, maybe a more in depth explanation would have been better. I truly wonder just like you, why is it that people refuse to admit that there are racial issues and that we need to correct them? In the other hand, if we look at it in a different perspective, the people protesting might have been the ones feeling rejected because of the racial art.
Nevertheless, your post was very interesting !

About the author