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26 Nov, 2021 15:58

Denmark’s museums are ‘too white’, artists claim

Denmark’s museums are ‘too white’, artists claim

Denmark’s public broadcaster has been accused of promoting a “wokeness on steroids” agenda, after featuring artists who criticized the excessive “whiteness” and lack of ethnic diversity in the country’s art museums.

The non-Danish-origin artists who participated in a Danish Radio (DR) documentary titled ‘Rebellion at the Academy’ this week slammed both the management and the artists who exhibit at these museums, noting how even the walls in such institutes are white.

“We only get one story told. We get a story of white men about white men for white men,” artist Ihsan Ihsan, a student of the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, complained to the channel. He added that, in his view, some of those in charge needed to “relinquish their positions of power.”

Ihsan’s comments were supported by fellow artist Dina El Kaisy Friemuth, who graduated from the same academy. She told the channel how, “as a brown person, it feels strange to go into these white institutions, where everything is white.”

“And I don’t just mean that the people who work there are white. Everything is white. Even their walls.”

Meanwhile, the Organization of Danish Museums (ODM), which represents 170 of the country’s museums and conservation centers, conceded that the artists had raised a “relevant issue.”

“The existing power structures, which can help to promote a limited art expression ... we cannot say we are free from it. And even though many places are working with the problem, we are not on target yet,” ODM Director Nils Jensen said.

While the organization apparently encourages member museums to promote diversity-related initiatives, Jensen noted that the “responsibility for a specific exhibition and programme planning lies with the museums themselves.”

Nonetheless, the artists’ concerns prompted ridicule online, with Danish social media users countering that such criticisms themselves were “racist” and out of place in a country that is predominantly white. One person slammed DR on Facebook for promoting a “ridiculous wokeness on steroids” agenda.

“I missed the bit where the criticism becomes more concrete – which Danish museums are specifically for whites?” tweeted Berlingske journalist Troels Heeger.