ZAM Reporter

Reclaiming Black stereotypes with humour and as a means of trauma therapy

Knights in Shining Armour (reappropriating the appropriated) is a bold exhibition about re-appropriation, humour as an 'armour' and art as trauma therapy. It opens on May 11th at 6 pm with a talk moderated by Noraly Beyer, between curator Claudio Ritfeld and director general of Culture and Media, Barbera Wolfensberger. From 7 pm creative collective The Gang is Beautiful takes over with music, fashion and drinks.

Is there room in the art for a sense of humour, satire or comedy when it comes to (institutional) racism and oppression? CBK Zuidoost's group exhibition Knights in Shining Armour (reappropriating the appropriated) explores that question through the works by seven (inter)national artists, in a setting that gives new meaning to historical objects from our colonial past.

Colonial living room
Knights in Shining Armour (reappropriating the appropriated) shows the artists' work in a simulated colonial living room. Contemporary art amid historical pieces from the repository of the National Cultural Heritage Agency (RCE), an institution that is in the process of researching the origins of the objects they keep and maintain.

Abolition of slavery
In 2023, the abolition of Transatlantic slavery will be commemorated. This commemorative year provides the background for this exhibition, conceived and curated by curator Claudio Ritfeld. RCE is lending pieces from its depot for the exhibition.

The artists participating in this exhibition are from various countries, some originating from the transatlantic slave trade; other artists come from West Africa, Europe and the United States of America. The artists are Joseph 'Joblek' Adebleku (GH), Kenneth Aidoo (NL), Ikechukwu 'Amos Black' Amos (NG), Ade Dare (NG), Giovanni Jona (SR), Madison Lewis (US) and Zella Vanié (US/CI).

Black stereotypes
The exhibition features existing work, and artist Giovanni Jona will spend the next two months in residence creating a work that responds to one of RCE's objects - a set of two torchères, a black man and a woman.

The inspiration for this project came from the historical journey and linguistic transformation of the word "Nigger." The curator seeks to draw a parallel between this phenomenon and the current act of contemporary painters re-appropriating black stereotypes in figurative painting. The curator is interested in how humour can be used as the ultimate "armour" to repel or even neutralise some of the weapons of racism and oppression.

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