• Denmark edition
 
Danish art project deemed racist by Swedes
Through Other Eyes gives "individuals an opportunity to try another ethnicity and possibly a different gender". Photo: Anna Andrea Malzer, Global Stories

Danish art project deemed racist by Swedes

Published: 19 Aug 2014 10:34 GMT+02:00
Updated: 19 Aug 2014 10:34 GMT+02:00

A Danish performance art project meant to combat discrimination and celebrate diversity has been deemed racist in Sweden. 
 
The Copenhagen-based theatre company Global Stories’ project Through Different Eyes has been removed from the Malmö Festival after more than 200 Swedes signed a petition accusing the project of racism. 
 
Through Different Eyes invites the public to have their appearance altered by make-up artists so that they can temporarily assume a different ethnicity or gender. Participants are then invited to walk around in a crowded public space to experience the feedback they receive when in someone else’s skin.
 
“This is a project that celebrates diversity. We work with make-up artists and provide all kinds of transformations: from white to brown, brown to white, man to woman and woman to man. We are also looking in to transforming from young to old to address the age discrimination,” Through Different Eyes project leader Morten Nielsen told The Local. 
 
 
The project was supposed to have been part of the currently-running Malmö Festival, but festival organisers on Sunday pulled the plug after the Swedes’ negative feedback and accusations that the project resembled offensive blackface performances.
 
“We apologise if people feel aggrieved and we have taken the criticism seriously. This part of the programme took an unexpected turn and we have decided to cancel it,” organiser Pella Ström wrote on the festival’s website. 
 

A Global Stories spokesperson said the festival only used photos of white people having their skin darkened, when the project also allows for temporary transformations of all sorts. Photo: Anna Andrea Malzer,Global Stories
 
Ström told Berlingske that the cancellation of the project was a sign that Sweden “has advanced much further in the debate on integration and equality than Denmark”. 
 
Danish historian and author Mikael Javling however had a much different take on the decision to cancel Through Different Eyes. 
 
Javling, who has previously spoken with The Local about Swedes’ “downward spiral of silence” on issues of immigration and integration, called the cancellation “nearly comical”.
 
“We could laugh at it as we normally do when we talk abut Sweden, because their ideological discussions seem almost comical, but this is really serious. Sweden is a country where politicians, the media, the cultural elite – everyone, really – that has something to say [about integration issues, ed] is under severe pressure due to immigration and current issues,” he told Berlingske.
 
Nielsen, however, said he didn't want to "turn this into another Swedish and Danish fight".
 
"This is a very complex debate and I hope we don't lose the complexity when discussing Swedes' and Danes' differences. I can understand how minorities in Malmö might have seen this as a blackface project, but it is everything else but that. It is very hard to be accused of doing something that is the exact opposite of its intention," he told The Local. 
 
Global Stories put on the Through Different Eyes project at the Malmö Festival last year without incident. Nielsen said that the festival "made a serious mistake" this year by only featuring a photo of man who had his skin darkened and claims the festival only added a second photo after the controversy had gotten out of control. 
 
NOTE: The Local replaced the original image that ran with this story at the request of Global Stories, who said that they no longer allow children under the age of 14 to participate in their project. 

For more stories about Denmark, join us on Facebook and Twitter

Justin Cremer (justin.cremer@thelocal.com)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Banner year for Danish apples and pears
These apples come from The Local's backyard and we can attest that they sure are tasty.

Banner year for Danish apples and pears

The right weather combinations have created the perfect conditions for growing fruit that is sweeter, bigger and crispier than normal. READ  

Two Danish universities among world's top 100
The University of Copenhagen. Photo: Colourbox

Two Danish universities among world's top 100

Led by the University of Copenhagen, two schools are among the top 100 globally, according to new rankings. The minister for higher education tells The Local that strong universities are a key to the nation's success. READ  

Grandfather admits to fatal CPH shooting
Tuesday's shooting left one dead and one seriously injured. Photo: Jens Astrup/Scanpix

Grandfather admits to fatal CPH shooting

"I should have brought more bullets," the 67-year-old grandfather involved in Tuesday’s fatal shooting was heard saying on a dictaphone he used to record the entire violent incident. READ  

Danes 'only' the third happiest in new study
Panama: Happiest place on Earth. Photo: Dsasso/Flickr

Danes 'only' the third happiest in new study

In a new global poll on happiness and well-being, Danes are knocked off their perch as ‘the happiest people in the world’ by the residents of Panama and Costa Rica. READ  

More Danes want to be TV stars than teachers
Paradise Hotel. Photo: TV3/Viasat

More Danes want to be TV stars than teachers

The number of applicants for the coming season of Paradise Hotel outpaced the number who sought an education as a teacher. READ  

Star architect reveals Aarhus waterfront plans
The development of Aarhus's waterfront is scheduled to be completed in 2017. Illustration: BIG

Star architect reveals Aarhus waterfront plans

Bjarke Ingels, known for such projects as Copenhagen's 8 House and New York City's West 57, will breathe new life into Aarhus's waterfront area. READ  

Parental rift behind fatal Copenhagen shooting
Heavily-armed police were on the scene after the shooting on Tuesday morning. Photo: Jens Astrup/Scanpix

Parental rift behind fatal Copenhagen shooting

A lawyer was killed and the father in a visitation rights case was critically injured in Tuesday's shooting incident in downtown Copenhagen. READ  

Cost of non-Western immigration on the rise
Heading into an election year, the Social Liberals' new leader Morten Østergaard has signalled a tougher immigration stance. Photo: Liselotte Sabroe/Scanpix

Cost of non-Western immigration on the rise

In the span for just four years, the societal costs of non-Western immigration have increased by over two billion kroner, according to a new analysis. READ  

One dead, one injured in Copenhagen shooting
The shooting took place on a side street to Copenhagen's Town Hall Square. Photo: Simon Skipper/Scanpix

One dead, one injured in Copenhagen shooting

Two victims were hit by shots from a sawed-off shotgun on Tuesday morning. One has died and the other is in critical condition. READ  

Driver fired for kicking special needs kid off bus
The boy (not pictured here) was taken off the bus halfway between his home and school. Photo: Colourbox

Driver fired for kicking special needs kid off bus

A bus driver's decision to set a 10-year-old boy off by the side of the road after arguing with a classmate has led to his dismissal. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Denmark's icon... that we can't show you
National
Denmark's icon... that we can't show you
Denmark 'high on Isis's list': Danish jihadist
International
Denmark 'high on Isis's list': Danish jihadist
What makes Danish TV so cool?
Culture
What makes Danish TV so cool?
Denmark's public schools enter a new era
Education
A new era for Denmark's public schools
Why Denmark’s health service needs treatment
Opinion
Why Denmark’s health service needs treatment
Danish art project deemed racist by Swedes
Culture
Danish art project slammed as "racist" by Swedes
No entry!
Opinion
Denmark: The land of no entry (for Muslims)
Danes voted 'least beautiful' in Scandinavia
Society
Is Denmark the ugly stepsister of Scandinavia?
Danish happiness is all in the genes
Society
The secret to Danish happiness is finally revealed
Hans Christian Andersen letter reveals heartbreak
Culture
Hans Christian Andersen letter reveals his lasting heartbreak
Denmark to look at decriminalising drugs
National
Denmark to look at decriminalising drugs
Copenhagen's new cycling bridge opens
Travel
Copenhagen's new cycling bridge opens
Being an expat in Copenhagen costs dearly
Business & Money
Copenhagen is the most expensive city in the north
Jobs: 'Denmark supports creative types'
Business & Money
My Danish Career: 'Denmark supports creative types'
Look at all those guns
National
Europe's biggest gun store opening in Denmark
The Killing jumper case
Culture
Danish firm cleared in Killing jumper court case
VIDEO: 'Denmark will definitely legalize weed'
Society
VIDEO: 'Denmark will definitely legalize weed'
Christiansborg tower open for visitors
Travel
Take in Copenhagen from a new vantage point
10 signs you've been in Denmark too long
Features
10 signs you've been in Denmark too long
The first minaret in Denmark
National
Denmark's first 'real' mosque opens amid controversy
Scandinavia Standard's introduction to Danish design
Culture
Danish design: Artistry meets functionality
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange
Politics
WikiLeaks reports the FBI to Danish police
National
Danes in Sweden sound off about life on the other side of the bridge
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

220
jobs available