Oslo shocked by the new human zoo

by Silvana Calcagno - 2014.05.16

Oslo, 1914. For five months the public could view a human zoo to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Norwegian Constitution. It was called "The Congo Village" and home to 80 residents of Senegal whose every move could be observed and studied as you would watch a tiger, an elephant or a lion. About one and a half million visitors enjoyed the anthropogenic spectacle that appeared before their eyes. Yet today, no one seems to remember the existence of that concentration of racism. To refresh the memory of Norwegians and resume the still highly relevant debate on the issue of race, two artists working in Oslo have decided to reopen a human zoo. Ali Fadlabi and Lars Cuzner are of Arab and Swedish origin and have issued an open call for all those who want to become part of their human zoo, which is opening in conjunction with the celebrations for the 200th anniversary of the Norwegian constitution. The project of the two artists, "European Limited Attraction", is certainly controversial and packs a powerful punch to reflect a problem both delicate and entrenched that, unfortunately, is not only relevant to Norway.

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