This decision was taken following severe criticism from the United Community of African Students (UCAS). UCAS originally demanded the photographs be removed from campus and destroyed. In dialogues between UCAS, the photographer and university representatives, it was decided the exhibition would be temporarily removed. It will be restored with additional contextual information in the near future.
The Power of the Wasted exhibition was created by Jurrian Veldhuizen, an alumnus of International Development Studies. Veldhuizen: ‘When I found myself standing on one of Africa’s largest landfills, I wanted people to see it.’ Veldhuizen aims to confront the audience with the ‘gigantic amount of waste we produce every day’ and show ‘the world beyond the trash can.’
It is not sufficiently clear that this is a work of art, rather than scientific researchSebastiaan Berendse, director of Value Creatione
UCAS criticised, among other things, the use of the word ‘scavengers’, a word used to describe people who informally process waste. According to UCAS, this is a derogatory and demeaning term. A photograph of someone smoking a joint after work is also considered problematic. Moreover, UCAS feels that the photo exhibit is not in compliance with the ethical guidelines for scientific research.
‘It is not sufficiently clear that this is a work of art, rather than scientific research’, says Sebastiaan Berendse, director of Value Creation, the team under which Impulse resides. ‘This means that we, as a university, must be more diligent in how we introduce this type of exposition and how we present the context. Following the discussions, we have decided to postpone the exhibit to address the unrest and have a broader dialogue on these sensitivities. Following that, the unabridged exhibition will be restored.’
The university asked my permission to exhibit the pictures. They were aware of the contentJurrian Veldhuizen, alumnus International Development Studies
If the plan is to fully restore the original exhibition, what is the point of removing it temporarily? ‘A part of the African community feels misrepresented by the exhibit. This has generated emotions. They perceive something different in the pictures than that which the photographer wants to convey. I feel it is worthwhile to address the current tensions by postponing the exhibition. That will allow us to focus on the discussions. That is exactly what Impulse does: inspire and spark dialogue.’
Veldhuizen says he is open to a dialogue on the content but feels that what happens with the exhibition is up to the university and UCAS. ‘The university asked my permission to exhibit the pictures. They were aware of the content.’