">Name: Oxford City Council Takes the C out of Colonization and puts it in Censorship
Artist: Sonja van Kerkhoff
Confronting Bodies: Oxford City Council, and artist collaborator.
Date of Action: October 2002
Specific Location: Oxford, England at the Carfax intersection.
Description of Artwork: The artwork was a series of performances and interactive pieces. An initial segment of the work engaged several artists to draw on the sidewalks of Oxford transposing cultural archetypes from their homelands on to the streets. Different sayings, monuments, and traditional activities were illustrated by artists, who hailed from all over Europe. One of the artists who helped Sonja organize the event became upset by the writings on the street. The irate artist then told Sonja to remove the work. Sonja, caring for the integrity of the simulation of colonization did not feel comfortable interceding in the messages delivered by her fellow colonizing artists. The disapproving member of the performance then acquired a mop and removed the work. The project continued on from there relatively smoothing. The remaining performances continued to focus on aspects of colonization, such as artists exchanging and trading objects to the native Oxfordians, which had no intrinsic value to them (e.g. a plastic coin), in an effort to have the population adopt Sonja, "the colonizer's," values. The final stage of the performance received much scrutiny from the local government. The last piece was to incorporate four different groups situated at the four corners of the Carfax intersection. One group of artists would sit and read silently, the second would stand and read aloud narrations from their own cultures works, the third group would read pieces of poetry that were culturally poignant, and the fourth group was designed to debate amongst themselves issues of language and colonization.
"Myself and Oxford's other Green Party Councilors were saddened to hear of your treatment during your recent visit to our city.
We DID NOT agree with the Council's decision to ban your work. If you wish to return and perform again in Oxford we are happy to support you."
Sonja will be taking them up on their offer sometime in 2003.
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