Spectres of Colonialism in Contemporary Art from Denmark

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In the 2000s, postcolonial critique effectively changed the agendas of contemporary art and art history, also in Denmark where several artists began to engage with the local history of colonialism, the question of Denmark’s share in the transatlantic trade in enslaved Africans and chattel slavery, and the continued effects of colonialism on contemporary societies. After outlining the activities on the Danish art scene, this essay hones in on Jeannette Ehlers and Nanna Debois Buhl, two Copenhagen-based artists who have made the history of the Danish West Indies (now the US Virgin Islands) the topic of several video works. I propose that their perceptions of Danish colonialism and its effects on the islands are very different. Therefore, their works need to be analysed within different frameworks: in Buhl’s case, a combined postcolonial and critical whiteness studies perspective; in Ehlers’s case, a combined decolonial and postcolonial perspective. Furthermore, a postmigrant perspective will be introduced to provide a frame for understanding how closely the critique of (Danish) colonialism ties in with pluralisation processes in society at large.
Original languageEnglish
JournalArt History
Issue numberx
Pages (from-to)xx-xx
Number of pages25
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 31 Dec 2019

    Research areas

  • Faculty of Humanities - postkolonialism, postmigration, contemporary art from Denmark, memory, collective memory, video art, absence, transatlantic slave trade, national identity, Danish colonialism, Danish West Indies, American Virgin Islands

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