Lending its title from Hugh Masekela’s seminal song “Gold”, that provides the underlying soundtrack for artist Bernard Akoi-Jackson’s performance “A_GOLDEN[R]AGE…(?)”, we ask this question in relation to the colonial legacies inscribed in the built environment and the monuments in Copenhagen.
Gathering the work of artists, who work across geographies the video programme presents a selection of video essays and documentation of performances that dig into the material traces of colonialism and its reverberations today: with forced displacement, deportation of people, racism, violations of Indegenous rights, removal of cultural heritage, extraction, land-grabbing and destruction of bio-diversity as some of the most tangible effects.
By deploying situated, artistic strategies, that attune to the lower frequencies and the willfully forgotten histories in the cultural archive of colonialism, the artists find new ways to reflect on the continuities of colonialism in the presents:
In the video essay “In the Place of Shadows”, La Vaughn Belle employs critical fabulation to wonder about Alberta Viola Roberts and Victor Cornelius, who were taken as children from the Danish West Indies to be displayed in the 1905 colonial exhibition at Tivoli Gardens, Copenhagen, in an attempt to create a space of care and regard for the memories of the children’s early life in St. Croix.
Covered in gold and pseudo-royal regalia, Bernard Akoi-Jackson’s mythical character in the performance A_GOLDEN[R]AGE…(?) saunters through some ceremonial streets of Amsterdam, with an entourage clad in lime green safety jackets. The route that he takes is the very same one that was taken by the Dutch Royal Golden Carriage (De Gouden Koets) which has in recent years, come under a great deal of criticism due to the grave colonial history it represents. The walk is a composite part of the work that Akoi-Jackson contributed to the Gouden Koets exhibition in the Amsterdam Museum from 18th June 2021to 27th February, 2022.
Linda Lamignan’s video work proposes a new value system with images and symbols that connect us to each other and to the planet, while exploring the linked histories of extraction and mining of crude oil and other minerals and products between Gabon, Nigeria and Norway.
In a series of video landscapes from Nuuk, Greenland Julie Edel Hardenberg problematizes the unequal power structures that exist between Greenland and Denmark. With roots in both cultures, Edel Hardenberg remaps the economic and social dependencies that exist between the two countries from within.
Tabita Rezaire’s video installation Deep Down Tidal enquires into the intricate cosmological, spiritual, political and technological entangled narratives sprung from water as an interface to understand the legacies of colonialism.
Together the artists’ works summon different kinds of knowledges to envision futures different from the present.
The film programme
La Vaughn Belle: In the Place of Shadows, 2021 (7:00 min.)
Bernard Akoi-Jackson:A_GOLDEN[R]AGE…(?), 2021 (4:52 min.)
Linda Lamignan: Between our Bodies and the Breathing Earth Pt.1, 2020 (10:37 min.)
Julie Edel Hardenberg: My First Coin, 2022 (13:00 min.)
Tabita Rezaire: Deep Down Tidal, 2017 (18:44 min.)
The screening program is curated by artists Barly Tshibanda, Nanna Katrine Hansen og Katrine Dirckinck-Holmfeld in conjunction with the audio-visual city walk Voices in the Shadow of the Monuments as part of Copenhagen Light Festival 2022. More: https://copenhagenlightfestival.org and tickets can be purchased here: https://llk.dk/j8pobw
On Tuesday 22nd of February 5:00 – 6:30 pm (CET) there will be an online public talk via zoom where the artists contributing to Voices in the Shadow of the Monuments will present their work via. ZOOM. The talk is free and open to everyone.
Descriptions of the videos
La Vaughn Belle: “In the place of shadows” (2021)
Working with the gaps in knowledge about the lives of the two children Victor and Alberta before they were taken to Denmark, the video work “In the place of shadows” (2021) employs critical fabulation to wonder about Alberta and Victor’s childhood memories on the Danish West Indies. Shot in St. Croix, the work explores traces of history lodged in the landscape to surface the continual haunting of past presences on the island. Turning away from the violence of archival records, the video is conceived as an offering to Alberta and Victor, an attempt to create a space of care and regard for the memories of their early life.
Bernard Akoi-Jackson: A_GOLDEN[R]AGE…(?), 2021
Covered in gold and pseudo-royal regalia, Bernard Akoi-Jackson’s mythical character in the performance A_GOLDEN[R]AGE…(?) saunters through some ceremonial streets of Amsterdam, with an entourage clad in lime green safety jackets. The route that he takes is the very same one that was taken by the Dutch Royal Golden Carriage (De Gouden Koets) which has in recent years, come under a great deal of criticism due to the grave colonial history it represents. The walk is a composite part of the work that Akoi-Jackson contributed to the Gouden Koets exhibition in the Amsterdam Museum from 18th June, 2021 27th February, 2022.
Linda Lamignan: Between our Bodies and the Breathing Earth Pt.1 is video work that is part of a larger series of work from the project A New Value System With Images and Symbols That Connect Us to Each Other and to The Planet. By inviting the viewer into a state of meditation, the video explores the notion of in-betweenness, belonging and borders. Singing as a way of storytelling. Channeling ancient memories and imagining alternative futures. Words and stories being told draws inspiration from two literary sources, the first from Gloria Anzaldua’s book: Borderlands / La Frontera: The New Mestiza – a book that challenges the ideas around diaspora, race and identity; addresses the invisible boundaries that exist between different cultures, genders and sexualities. Anzaldua uses Borderlands as a term to identify a growing population that cannot distinguish between these invisible borders, which instead have learned to become part of several worlds. The second source of inspiration is from David Abram’s book “Becoming Animal”. The book explores the relationship between humans and the other species with whom we share the planet. Opening up other ways of understanding our own place in the world.
Julie Edel Hardenberg: My First Coin, 2022
Gennem en række videolandskaber fra Nuuk i Grønland, undersøger Julie Edel Hardenbergs video “My First Coin” følelsen af ambivalens som altid er ærværende i relationen Grønland-Danmark: det at vi ikke kan undslå os historien og at vi er formet af den; det at vi har været en Dansk koloni og til dels lider under de gamle koloniale magt/ strukturer. Ud fra sine rødder i begge kulturer kortlægger Julie Edel Hardenberg de sociale, økonomiske og politiske genbyrdes afhængigheder, der eksisterer mellem de to lande indefra.
Tabira Rezaire: DEEP DOWN TIDAL (2017)
Deep Down Tidal excavates the power of water as a conductive interface for communication. From submarine cables to sunken cities, drowned bodies, hidden histories of navigations and sacred signal transmissions, the ocean is home to a complex set of communication networks. As modern information and communication technologies become omnipresent in our industrialized realities, we urgently need to understand the cultural, political and environmental forces that have shaped them.
Looking at the infrastructure of submarine fibre optic cables that transfers our digital data, it is striking to realize that the cables are layered onto colonial shipping routes. Once again the bottom of the sea becomes the interface of painful yet celebrated advancements masking the violent deeds of modernity.
Deep Down Tidal navigates the ocean as a graveyard for Black knowledge and technologies.
From Atlantis, to the ‘Middle passage’, or refuge seekers presently drowning in the Mediterranean, the ocean abyss carries lost histories and broken lineages while simultaneously providing the global infrastructure for our current telecommunications. Could the violence of the Internet lie in its physical architecture?
Like countless African and indigenous traditional sciences, research in physics now suggest that water has the ability to memorize and copy information, disseminating it through its streams. What data is our world’s water holding? What messages are we encoding into our waters? Beyond historical sorrow, water is a portal to other realities as its mysterious sea life of mermaids, water deities, and serpent spirits celebrated in many cosmologies remind us.
Deep Down Tidal enquires the intrictate cosmological, spiritual, political and technological entangled narratives sprung from water as an interface to understand the legacies of colonialism.
Bios of the artists
Bernard Akoi-Jackson (PhD), is a contemporary Ghanaian artist who works from Kumasi. His multi-disciplinary, audience-implicating installations and performative “pseudo-rituals”, have featured in exhibitions across the world. He has curated exhibitions with blaxTARLINES KUMASI, Savannah Centre for Contemporary Art (SCCA) in Tamale, Ghana and co-curated the Stellenbosch Triennale in South Africa. He is a member of the Exit Frame Collective and holds a PhD in Painting and Sculpture from KNUST, Kumasi where he lectures with particular interest in disruption and the revolutionary potential in contemporary art.
La Vaughn Belle makes visible the unremembered. She is a visual artist working in a variety of disciplines that include: video, performance, painting, installation and public art. She explores the material culture of coloniality and her art presents countervisualities and narratives that challenge colonial hierarchies and invisibility. She has exhibited in the Caribbean, the USA and Europe. She is the co-creator together with Jeannette Ehlers of the large scale public monument I AM QUEEN MARY. Her work has been featured in a wide range of media including: the NY Times, Politiken, VICE, The Guardian, Caribbean Beat, the BBC and Le Monde. She holds an MFA from the Instituto Superior de Arte in Havana, Cuba, an MA and a BA from Columbia University in NY. Her studio is based in the Virgin Islands.
Linda Lamignan The works of visual and performance artist Linda Lamignan convey the sensation of being alien and of floating between dissimilar worlds. Through video, music, objects and performance, Lamignan explores notions related to wandering and diaspora, transformation and love. Lamignan received their MFA degree at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen and their BFA degree at the Academy of Fine Arts in Oslo.
Julie Edel Hardenberg (Paneeraq) was born and raised in Nuuk, Kalaallit Nunaat/Greenland. She is educated through the art academies in Finland, Norway, England and gained her MA degree in Art-Theory and Communication at The Royal Academy of Fine Arts, Denmark. Her works problematize the unequal power structures that exist between Greenland and Denmark. With roots in both cultures, she has an insight into the identity and self-understanding of different Greenlandic people – nonetheless the economic and social dependency that exists between the two countries and its impact on the Greenlandic people; entangled or trapped in a shared or divided identity, between power and powerlessness.
Tabita Rezaire is infinity longing to experience itself. As an eternal seeker, her path as an artist, devotee, yogi, doula, and farmer apprentice weaves healing arts and scientific systems through connections to the land, the ancestors, the songs.
Her cross-dimensional practices envision network sciences – organic, electronic and spiritual – as healing technologies to serve the shift towards heart consciousness. Embracing digital, corporeal and ancestral memory, she digs into scientific imaginaries and mystical realms to tackle the colonial wounds and energetic imbalances that affect the songs of our body-mind-spirits.