How timely to be currently on a research trip in Paris just as the campaign against the presentation of Brett Bailey’s ‘Exhibit B’ (Human Zoo) installation is taking shape and gaining momentum in the French capital.
Over the past few days I have been inspired by the passion and commitment of the Parisian campaign organisers “Collectif CONTRE-Exhibit B” – a recently established collective of writers, artists and political activists who are working tirelessly to spread the word about the problematic content of Brett Bailey’s live performance project so that prospective audiences will not attend… and also to alert the wider public in France about the inappropriate, inaccurate, insensitive and offensive content in this (so called) theatre arts piece (NB: Please see my earlier blog posts for a description about the content of ‘Exhibit B’ here).
Many high-profile academics, cultural commentators, writers and performance artists – including the celebrated French-language novelist (of Guadeloupean heritage) Maryse Condé, the political scientist Professor Françoise Vergès, and the French songwriter and recording artist Bams – have added their names and voices to the ‘anti-Exhibit B’ campaign, and are helping to communicate a strong and unified perspective about how dangerous it is for an ill-informed theatre director like Brett Bailey to pursue a project dealing with the physical violence, psychological traumas and painful legacies of past 19th century colonial racisms by falsely depicting African people as silent and passive participants in this historical narrative.
At the time of writing this post, the anti-capitalist activist John Mullen – author of the Change.org petition “Déprogrammer le zoo humain!” – has secured more than 12,400 signatures from members of the public who are opposed to the scheduled staging of Brett Bailey’s 12 tableaux vivants at Théâtre Gérard Philippe on boulevard Jules-Guesdes in Saint-Denis from 27th to 30th November 2014, and Le CENTQUATRE (the Cultural Centre 104) on rue Curial in the 19th arrondissement of Paris, from 7th to 14th December 2014 (see: http://www.104.fr/english/).
The campaign organisers and activists involved in “Collectif CONTRE-Exhibit B” are calling on people of all nationalities and diverse ethnic backgrounds to come together to demonstrate our collective opposition to Brett Bailey’s racist project by signing the online petition “Déprogrammer le zoo humain!” at Change.org; and (more importantly) by joining the on-street protests – the first of which is scheduled to take place on Thursday 27 November 2014 at 18:00 hrs outside Théâtre Gérard Philippe, 59, boulevard Jules-Guesde, 93 207 Saint-Denis, France.
For additional campaign updates and further information, please see the following web links
Collectif CONTRE-Exhibit B Paris on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/contreexhibitB
Political activist John Mullen’s blog: http://johnmullenagen.blogspot.fr/
Facebook page of the French artist Bams: https://www.facebook.com/bamsnews