In light of recent Exhibit B controversies, I was in two minds about posting this and I’m still unsure where I stand on the matter since both sides of the debates for and against it put across strong cases. The show features black people in oppressive situations as subordinate objects which understandably and justifiably disturbed centuries of bad sentiment. By no means should a people who have suffered so much and continue to suffer incredibly, be relegated to their former dehumanised roles of servitude and entertainment by institutions in societies who claim to be the forerunners in diversity. However, there is no denying that the piece can be interpreted as a pertinent social critique, there is a clear political undertone to the two cases in question (a woman chained to a colonial officers bed and a caged man). Unfortunately the actions and background of the artist has complicated matters to the point where it is unclear just who is being criticised, is this an acknowledgement of unjust oppression or an assertion of supremacy? Yes, the people responsible for organising and accepting exhibitions should have been considerate of and as well as aware and prepared for the back-lash they recieved. Hopefully, this is a lesson learnt.
From the outside, it’s definitely not the most attractive of buildings in London but The Barbican (nearest tubes: High Street Islington, Farringdon and Angel) has housed many positive spectacles which have promoted pluralism, technology and innovation- I heard that their digital-age exhibition with a whole section dedicated to arcade gaming was a blast (from the past).
There was a time when my family used to make regular trips to the Barbican to see what was a gwan- I suppose this was my parent’s attempt to cultivate the spongy minds of their sponge-minded children to produce culturally enriched assets to society. Children’s minds are like sponges, you know?
A few weeks ago now, my Dad and I decided to re-visit our old haunt. Not much had changed, the brutalist building still stood as it did all those years ago, the only difference was this addition:
A foodhall and a cooooool one with boardgames at that. Cakes, cooked food and coffee. You go Barbican, you know, you know what’s up!
…Or at least you should from now on…