Curated by Claude Simard
The Whole World is Rotten presents work by several generations of artists from three continents. This exhibition focuses primarily on African struggles for independence in order to discuss a broader artistic response to the realities of living in a global community even as many people around the world struggle for self-determination.
The exhibition is organized to open a dialogue between historical material and an array of contemporary work with African, European and American perspectives. Issues of migration, exile and self-determination link these diverse bodies of work. Some address specific situations and politics while others take more general or abstract positions. For example, documents from colonial Africa stand in opposition to contemporary material from socio-political groups such as the Black Panther Party or artists examining workers’ struggles in North America.
Acknowledging that the conflicted and deeply-rooted relationship the Western World has with colonialism extends beyond Africa, the exhibition title implicates the entire world and suggests that we are all involved in the legacy of resistance and oppression. The artists in this exhibition address living in a post-colonial world with responses ranging from hopeful to cynical to defiant. The title may also be considered as a proposition – is the whole world rotten? That question immediately forces the all of us to confront (mis)conceptions of African identity as well as marginalized identities everywhere.
The Whole World is Rotten reveals complex and slippery connections between transcontinental histories, cultural traditions, slavery, art, the creative process, and social activism.