1,000 sign petition to cancel ‘racist’ exhibition at Barbican

12:20 27 August 2014

Exhibit B - photo by Sofie Knijff

Exhibit B - photo by Sofie Knijff


More than 1,000 people have signed a petition to cancel a “racist” exhibition due to be displayed at the Barbican.

Exhibit B - photo by Sofie KnijffExhibit B - photo by Sofie Knijff

The gallery is due to open Brett Bailey’s Exhibit B which features black actors in cages, depicting real 19th-century human zoos, from September 23.

Mr Bailey, a playwright who grew up in Apartheid South Africa, says the exhibition demonstrates the “brutal reality behind colonisation” and is “not a piece about black histories made for white audiences” – but activists have called it “highly offensive, insulting and racist”.

Zita Holbourne, an artist and curator who is also co-founder of Black Activists Rising Against Cuts, wrote about the exhibition: “We don’t believe that in order to remind people of the horrors of racism, enslavement, apartheid and colonial rule it is necessary to place black people in cages and put them on display in an exhibition and that this exhibition does nothing to promote race equality.

“This is not art as is claimed by the curator of the exhibition Brett Bailey.”

The petition currently has 1,260 signatures, despite one performer who took part describing the exhibition as one of the most “powerful experiences of my career” and another saying it “awakened me about the horrors of the past that are part of our history”.

In defence of the exhibition, Mr Bailey wrote: “Nowhere do I term Exhibit B a ‘human zoo’. Exhibit B is not a piece about black histories made for white audiences.

“It is a piece about humanity; about a system of dehumanisation that affects everybody within society, regardless of skin colour, ethnic or cultural background, that scours the humanity from the ‘looker’ and the ‘looked at’.”


Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Islington Gazette visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Islington Gazette staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Islington Gazette account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

Latest News Stories

City Supermarket, in Goswell Road. Picture: Google Street View

A convenience store has had its alcohol licence revoked - after selling knives to a violent teenager.

7 minutes ago
The man whose body was recovered from the Regent’s Canal has been named as Sebastiano Magnanini

Paul Williams, 61, of no fixed abode was on the evening of Thursday, October 8, charged with preventing lawful burial.

51 minutes ago
Islington Cllr Asima Shaikh, centre, visited users and staff at the learning centre. Picture: Arsenal FC/David Price

Arsenal FC’s adult learning centre has reopened in a new home by Emirates Stadium.

Highbury Corner Magistrates' Court. Picture: Polly Hancock

A savage English bull terrier chased a terrified schoolgirl down the street and bit her so severely she needed surgery, a court heard.

Yesterday, 15:00
Arsenal Stadium management have recently put up anti-skating signs and anti-skating devices on the steps outside the stadium on the North Bank Terrace to stop skaters skating over the memorial plaques there.

A mother has hit out at Arsenal Football Club after skateboarders were stopped from using steps with personalised memorial plaques at Emirates Stadium.

Yesterday, 14:51
The man whose body was recovered from the Regent’s Canal has been named as Sebastiano Magnanini

Two men have been arrested in connection with the suspected murder of a man in Islington, whose body was recovered from the Regent’s Canal in September.

Yesterday, 13:00
Pride of Britain Winner   SOHANA Collins and sisters with Sam Cameron ,  and at the Downing Street 


In many ways, Sohana Collins is just like any other 13-year-old: she goes to school, she’s obsessed with Harry Potter and enjoys playing with her family’s puppy.

Yesterday, 11:00
An artist's impression of how Archway town centre will look once the scheme is finished. But some are unimpressed by the Archway Road bus route plans

A main road may have to cope with another 50 buses per hour as part of plans to remove the Archway gyratory.

Most read news


You'll be stocked up on toiletries  for a while!

Cosmetics, toiletries, vitamins and more.

You could be splashing the cash at Topshop!

Just imagine what you could do with £1,000 to spend at Topshop.

Digital Edition

Read the Islington Gazette e-edition today E-edition
Family Notices 24

Local business directory

Our trusted business finder