The exhibition about the Dutch slavery past in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam was opened this afternoon by King Willem-Alexander. Co-founder of cultural-historical organization The Black Archives Mitchell Esajas is enthusiastic. But he and artist, activist and BIJ1 candidate Quinsy Gario say that more structural changes are needed in the Netherlands.
Gario finds the exhibition interesting, but would rather see something else. “It has now been ten years since the National Institute for Dutch Slavery Past and Heritage was removed from the national budget. Rutte did not want to save that institute. If that had not happened, we could have structural exhibitions about the slavery past, but we opt for incidental exhibitions. actions. “
The opening of the exhibition reminds Gario of 2013. That was the year in which it was exactly 150 years ago that slavery was abolished in the Netherlands and the then colonies. “In this year, extra incidental events were also discussed, but who knows that now?”
‘First time so explicit’
But incidental actions are also welcome, says Esajas. “It always struck me when I visited the Rijksmuseum that I really had to search to find a corner on this subject. This exhibition is the first time that so explicit attention has been given to the history of slavery. It was about time; very good that it is finally happening. I do wonder what will happen after the exhibition, will this information disappear or will slavery receive permanent prominent attention in the museum? “
In this video, curators show what makes the artwork ‘La Bouche du Roi’ by the Benin artist Romuald Hazoumé special:
The exhibition tells ten personal stories from different perspectives to bring 250 years of slavery history to life. These are true stories of people who were enslaved at the time. Attention is also paid to the people who revolted against slavery, but also to the plantation owners and regents. Slavery in Suriname, the Caribbean, Brazil, Asia and South Africa is discussed.
Esajas points to the danger of this form, something he has already informed the Amsterdam museum. “It is important that the slavery past is not individualized. It is good that people are given a face, but it must remain clear that around those personal stories was an economic system in which people sought profit and used slaves as a means of production. On a global scale. For hundreds of years. “
Both men have mixed feelings at the opening, which received a lot of attention, partly because King Willem-Alexander was present. Esajas: “It is good that as many people as possible see this, even people who are not involved with this subject on a daily basis. But besides the king I missed someone from the community of the former colonies.”
The king was also given a tour of the museum:
According to Gario, such an opening does not change the structural way in which people with black skin color are treated. “Today, the Secretary of State has stopped corona liquidity support for Sint Maarten again, against the agreements. The core principle of dignity and humanity is still not adhered to today.”
According to him, the exhibition is a good starting point to change this. For example, he calls it positive that the exhibition at least initiated internal discussions about the slavery past. “That’s good. But I do want to see the consequences of these conversations in other exhibitions.”
Gario and Esajas also think that opportunities have been missed in the presentation of the exhibition. “For example, look at the talk show that is organized from the exhibition. Where are the women? The non-binary people? You will only see the real changes if you also make your team more inclusive and diverse,” says Gario. Esajas agrees. “That is really a missed opportunity.”