A Declaration of Discomfort
Most museums are monuments to a system that privileges some people over others and creates a narrative about the identity of nations or cities that institutions seek to project and protect.
Museums hold collections from donors who benefited from the practice of racial slavery, violent endeavours, forced removal and the systematic oppression of indigenous peoples.
Museums are political places.
‘Curating Discomfort’ puts forward discomforting provocations and interventions to help us to understand that museums have perpetuated ideologies of white supremacy: a political, economic and cultural system in which white western ideas control the power of the texts, the material resources and the actions that continue to underpin notions of cultural superiority.
Colonial systems, such as the British Empire, used these ideologies to justify the enslavement and colonisation of peoples and lands around the world. Museums developed within this context and they remain spaces that celebrate and memorialise colonial systems. Collections, displays and labels are a political act that have legacies rooted in colonialism.
We are only now recognising that we are not neutral and that we have, without consideration, been complicit in perpetuating the ideologies of previous centuries.