Forthcoming book to be co-published by The Africa Institute and Skira.
Beyond the Door of No Return:
Confronting Hidden Colonial Histories through Contemporary Art.
This richly illustrated book focuses on the lesser-known details of colonial history, with particular emphasis on stories of resistance and rebellion against colonial rule. The contemporary artists featured in this book include John Akomfrah, La Vaughn Belle, Manthia Diawara, Jeannette Ehlers, Michelle Eistrup, Sasha Huber, Oceana James, Patricia Kaersenhout, Grada Kilomba, Suchitra Mattai, and Alberta Whittle, who are all at the forefront of decolonial thinking. Through their artworks, they convey compelling narratives that shed light on the entangled colonial histories that connect Europe, Africa, the Caribbean and the Americas. Collectively, these artists provide crucial insight into some of the lesser-known aspects of colonial history, such as Norwegian involvement in the transatlantic slave trade.
These artists convey unique resistance stories about fearless freedom fighters such as Venus Johannes, Mary Thomas, Olaudah Equiano, and Anna Heegaard, thereby allowing for a deeper, more nuanced understanding of colonial history than the historical narratives that have typically been told from a Western perspective. These are stories of empowerment and resistance that help, at least partially, to set the historical record straight. By highlighting the stories of those who have been historically silenced, we gain access to a more nuanced understanding of colonial history and the factors which have contributed to the continued effects of colonialism today, most evidently witnessed in the prevalence of racism, poverty, and forced migration.
The author’s experience as a curator of contemporary art is strongly influenced by longtime research in cultural studies, postcolonial theory, and African and African diaspora aesthetics.
Image: John Akomfrah, Vertigo Sea (2015) Three-channel color video installation, 7.1 surround sound, 48 minutes, 30 seconds Smoking Dogs Films.