That is the result of seven months of discussions behind the scenes between WUR, the African community and alumnus Jurrian Veldhuizen, the photographer of the series. WUR is therefore going back on its previous promise that the exhibition would only be taken down temporarily.
Veldhuizen’s photos show the informal recycling industry in the Ghanaian city of Kumasi, where he did research as a student of International Development Studies. The United Community of African Students (UCAS) found the images offensive and demanded that they should be removed and destroyed.
To calm things down, director of Corporate Value Creation Sebastiaan Berendse decided after a week to have the photos removed temporarily. Temporary has now become permanent. According to a statement, the images evoke ‘a broader (latent) debate about decolonization and anti-racism within WUR and a deep underlying pain that has come to the fore through this exhibition’.
It has been decided not to put the photos back up so that the debate can be conducted ‘in a completely open and safe manner’. Instead of the exhibition, discussions will be held in Impulse in the next month about an inclusive, safe campus. Those discussions will be organized in conjunction with the anti-racism project DARE, which started last year.
The controversial exhibition was the first using the ten new billboards next to Impulse. That initiative was intended to start a dialogue. The billboards have been empty since last October.