Spanning the realms of performance and visual arts, Exhibit B
is a ‘human installation’ that confronts the history of racism that runs through the ethnographic displays, human zoos and scientific racism of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and the current dehumanizing policies towards immigrants in various parts of the world.
Through a series of installations, featuring performers who identify themselves as black, Exhibit B
presents a catalogue of the atrocities that were committed – and concealed – by European powers in Africa in the name of ‘civilization’, and considers the ways in which they have been dehumanized in order to legitimize policies of plunder and enslavement. It commemorates the men and women whose dignity was stripped away in this process.
The audience moves from one installation to another in silence, observed by the motionless performers.
Apart from ‘The Exhibit Quartet’ of Namibian singers that accompanies the production, all performers have been sourced in Athens. The orientation of both the rehearsal and performance processes is on self-awareness, empowerment and transformation of the performers.
Presented throughout the world (from South Africa to Europe, and from Russia to Latin America) to public and critical acclaim, this stimulating exhibition/performance was described by celebrated theatre director Peter Brook as ‘an extraordinary achievement’.
Committed to a new kind of humanism for almost a decade, the internationally acclaimed South African playwright, director, set designer, and visual artist, Brett Bailey asks us to face our prejudices and to look at the damage done in the name of expansion by a Europe that professes a humanist orientation.
In his message for the 2014 UNESCO’s World Theatre Day, Bailey comes to remind us both the past and the present, that ‘world of unequal power in which various hegemonic powers try to convince us that one nation, one race, one gender, one sexual preference, one religion, one ideology, one cultural framework is superior to all others’.
to read the director's note and more info about the historical context of the performance.
Concept and Direction: Brett Bailey
Production Manager: Barbara Mathers
Technical Manager: Colin Legras
Company Administrator & Stage Manager: Helena Erasmus
Choral songs arranged by: Marcellinus Swartbooi
Producer: Quaternaire and Arts Projects Australia
Line Producer and Location Manager: Dimitris Chalkiadakis
Performers Coordination: Gialena Kleidara
Texts translation in the installation: Vassilis Douvitsas
Casting: Athens Casting
Special thanks to the immigrant association Asante.
Choir from Windhoek, Namibia: Avril Nuuyoma, Chris Nekongo, Melvin Dupont, Michael Beukes
Performers: Kenny Moses Adetu, Jessica Anosike, Marion Aurora, Robert Ouko Babu, Azcuy Lazaro Anardo Depestre, Nayla Gkougkni, Kassim Ligopora, Mery Esther Mejia Vandepool, Steven Mouagke, Yuri Nassar, Jenifer Ngwere, Irini Ontoul, Ioanna Okundinge, Nikos Thomas
We warmly thank Athanasios and Marina Martinos for kindly offering the venue.
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In September 2014 protestors who perceived Exhibit B
as racist closed the work down at the Barbican, London. The polemic spread to the work’s showing in Paris a few months later, where all attempts to shut down the performance were unsuccessful. According to Bailey and his defenders, ‘the controversy is based on a series of misunderstandings about the work by people who have not attended it’. For more on this controversy, see http://thirdworldbunfight.co.za/exhibit-b/
With the exception of the four singers from Namibia (‘Exhibit Quartet’), the performers of Exhibit B
are always residents of the city in which the work is presented. Up till now more than 150 people have performed in the work. In Athens (as in other cities), Bailey conducted open auditions, calling candidates to find out about the project, and to participate in it. The run of Exhibit B
in Athens has been organised with the guidance and unreserved support of the immigrant association Asante.
Ancient Greek myths are a source of inspiration for Bailey. His work ΟRFEUS
is a ritualistic performance, during which the audience follows Orfeus to an African Hades (underworld), full of children’s slave markets, sex trafficking, and men abandoned in prison cells. In medEia
, Bailey presents the Argonauts as a troupe of Western militia on the rampage in African villages looking for loot, sex, and adventure. Medea, the priestess of such a village, follows Jason to his country, where she becomes the victim of racist xenophobia.
One of Bailey’s most recent productions, presently on international tour, is Giuseppe Verdi’s opera Macbeth
. Bailey transports the plot to the killing fields of the Democratic Republic of Congo, where a 20 year war driven by greed for natural resources has resulted in the deaths and displacement of millions.
Born in 1967 in South Africa, Brett Bailey is a distinguished dramaturg, theatre and opera director, site-specific performance artist, set designer, and visual artist. For twenty years he has been artistic director of the celebrated performance company Third World Bunfight, based in Cape Town. Its aim is the production of theatre, visual installations, opera, music events, and site-specific performances that investigate our world, mostly focusing on post-colonial Africa, and the historical as well as contemporary relations of Africa with the West.
In 2011 Brett Bailey was president of the jury of the Prague Quadrennial of Performance Design and Space, and a jury member for the competition ‘Music Theatre Now’ of the International Theatre Institute. In 2009 he was artistic director of the opening ceremony for the World Summit on Arts and Culture, Johannesburg. From 2006 to 2009, he directed opening ceremonies for the Harare International Festival of the Arts, Zimbabwe. From 2008 to 2011, he was director of the public arts festival ‘Infecting the City’, Cape Town. His works have been presented all over Europe, Australia, and Africa, receiving numerous awards. These include the Gold Medal for design at the 2007 Prague
Quadrennial. (Source: Hellenic Centre of the International Theatre Institute Centre