Paradise lost: In Africa and in Europe, with Brett Bailey, the mesmerizer, in charge

Kalina Stefanova
2014 Maska  
This article aims at introducing the extraordinary talent of South African director Brett Bailey by recreating the second installment of his Exhibit series -a unique art-and-politics event that has been stunning and disconcerting European audiences -and by presenting a firsthand account of the main developments in his work, from his first show Zombie until now. The life-changing and conscience-awakening event -the Exhibit Series (Exhibit A and Exhibit B) by the South African director Brett
more » ... y -at the background of his oeuvre, from his first show in Cape Town in the mid 1990s till today. It's because of people like Brett Bailey that authorities have been wary of the arts, and especially theatre, and censorship has been flourishing throughout the centuries. It's because of people like Brett Bailey that the "dogmas" of moral relativism haven't been able to (and hopefully won't) fully take hold of people's system of values. For would you call relatively bad the following fact: in the Belgian Congo Free State, at the turn of the 20th century, when the native Africans laboring over the production of timber, rubber and ivory (to be shipped to Europe) did not manage to meet their weekly quota, they had their hands cut off? Or, if that is not convincingly enough of an absolute evil, how about this: in the German South West Africa of the same time, the punished native Herero men were decapitated and their heads were sent in sacks to the Herero women's camp, where the inmates had to boil them and scrape off the flesh with shards of glass; then the skulls, packed in wooden boxes, were sent to universities and museums in Europe in order to serve as items of proof in the "scientific research" on the black race's inferiority? It was in this same place and time that the first official genocide of the 20th century was carried out and the word "concentration camp" in German was used. As late as 2010, after lengthy negotiations, Namibia received back 69 skulls, kept until then in the cellars
doi:10.1386/maska.29.161-162.122_1 fatcat:na7h346lc5cajpbbeehryjwbmq