• Denmark's news in English
 

Danish art project deemed racist by Swedes

Published: 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
Danish bridge reopens after bad weather
No Spring yet: Bad weather has closed the Danish main bridge, "Storebæltsbroen," potentially causing major Easter traffic jam. Photo: Colourbox

Danish bridge reopens after bad weather

UPDATED: The calendar may indicate that Spring is in the air, but this is far from reality in Denmark. Today the main bridge, “Storebæltsbroen” – linking the western part of the country with the East – was temporarily closed due to ice falling from its cables. READ  

Cultures in the mix at Aarhus People's Kitchen
Volunteers cook using unsold fruit and vegetables from local farmers. Photo: Jutland Station

Cultures in the mix at Aarhus People's Kitchen

The idea of a people’s kitchen, or Folkekøkken, is not unheard of in Denmark. Copenhagen is full of them. Aarhus, on the other hand, has only one, and it’s unlike any other: it doesn’t cost any money. READ  

'Solo mums' on the rise in Denmark
Every tenth child in Denmark is born to a single mother, statistics show. The state pays for fertility treatment but some argue that this has to stop. Photo: Tipstimes.com/Flickr

'Solo mums' on the rise in Denmark

In Denmark you get your education and health care for free and if you're a woman who still hasn't found the love of your life but still want a child, the state will also cover your artificial insemination costs. But this is too much, some Danes now argue. READ  

Denmark boasts highest labour costs in EU

Denmark boasts highest labour costs in EU

Hourly labour costs in Denmark reached 300.30 Danish kroner (€40.30) - the highest rate across the European Union. READ  

Denmark's Isis war bill adds up
Danish military planes had by February been on some 250 missions as part of the war against the terror group Isis, according to Ritzau. And the bill adds up. Photo: Colourbox

Denmark's Isis war bill adds up

Denmark spent 213 million Danish kroner fighting against terror group Isis during a four-month period ending in February this year, according to Ritzau. READ  

Copenhagen chips in for 2024 Olympic events
Copenhagen is already in talks with Hamburg about hosting some of the Olymic events if Hamburg becomes the host city in 2024. Photo: Flickrworker/Wikipedia Commons.

Copenhagen chips in for 2024 Olympic events

You may be able to watch a biking race or some other Olympic events in Copenhagen in 2024 - at least if the mayor of Copenhagen gets his way. READ  

Greenland: Brain drain to Denmark
Young Greenlanders are leaving the island for better opportunities abroad, causing a brain drain to the fragile economy. Photo: Colourbox

Greenland: Brain drain to Denmark

Just a few years back, Greenland rode on a wave of optimism as untapped oil and gas-resources seemed to secure that long-wanted independence from Denmark. Today it looks different and young people are leaving. READ  

Christiania case
Final Christiania tally: 76 sentenced to 187 years
A file photo shows an unrelated police bust in Christiania in January 2013. Photo: Jens Nørgaard Larsen/Scanpix

Final Christiania tally: 76 sentenced to 187 years

Ten additional guilty verdicts on Friday put an end to what has been characterized as Denmark’s largest ever cannabis case. READ  

Denmark's ten must-see concerts in April
American post-rock master Russian Circles hit the Jazzhouse on April 28th. Photo: Chris Strong

Denmark's ten must-see concerts in April

With clocks being set ahead an hour on Sunday, spring is finally ready to hit full bloom. Here are our picks for the best concerts to help you ring in the new season. READ  

Denmark issues 11,000 invalid passports

Denmark issues 11,000 invalid passports

If you or your family members have been issued a Danish passport since February, it may include a vital mistake that makes it invalid for international travel. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
International
Russia threatens Denmark with nuclear attack
Denmark gets a cloudy glimpse at historic solar eclipse
Politics
Denmark to immigrants: 'You must contribute'
Travel
Sorry Stockholm, but Copenhagen is the true capital of Scandinavia
Culture
Hvabehar?!? Not even the Danes can understand Danish
Education
Porn in public schools? Denmark is considering it
"Denmark is making windmill history"
National
"Denmark is making windmill history"
Business & Money
Silicon Viborg! Apple invests billions in new Danish data centre
National
Danish military spooks to get more power than NSA
Photo: REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger/Scanpix
National
As it happened: Denmark rocked by terror attack
Copenhagen attacks renew integration debate
National
Copenhagen attacks renew integration debate
Business & Money
The most powerful brand in the world is Danish
Society
Prince Consort Henrik: 'I should be king'
Technology
Meet the Dane who is a finalist to spend the rest of his life on Mars
National
Timeline of Copenhagen attacks: terror into the night
National
A portrait of modern Denmark in ten stats
Immigration in Denmark at an all-time high
National
Immigration in Denmark at an all-time high
Business & Money
Introducing The Local's employee advice column
VIDEO: Copenhagen's moving circle bridge
Travel
Copenhagen gets even cooler: New moving circle bridge coming
Denmark's energy use at 42-year low
National
Denmark's energy use at 42-year low
Denmark to target anti-radicalization at kids
National
Denmark to target anti-radicalization at kids
International
What's keeping UK expats from voting?
Ten Danish words the world should start using
Society
Ten Danish words the world should start using
'Fastest archer alive' wins YouTube fame
Society
'Fastest archer alive' wins YouTube fame
National
Europe in statistics - from Spain to Sweden
Denmark world's best country for business
Features
Denmark is the world's best country for business
Muhammad cartoonist draws Paris response
Muhammad cartoonist draws Charlie Hebdo response
How to make sense of Denmark's climate impact
Features
Green leader or environmental pig? Denmark's climate impact decoded
Introducing The Local's job advice column
Business & Money
Introducing The Local's job advice column
Denmark passes dual citizenship bill
National
"A great day for expats" – Denmark passes dual citizenship bill
Denmark's jihadist rehab: homework, football and Islam
National
Denmark's jihadist rehab: homework, football and Islam
Danish bike culture even cooler than you thought
Society
Danish bike culture even more amazing than you thought
No Danish? No problem!
Education
No Danish? No problem! Danes are world champs at English
Can you pass the Danish citizenship test?
Society
Could YOU be a Dane? Take our citizenship test and find out
Denmark world's fourth most prosperous nation
International
Denmark world's fourth most prosperous nation
10 things other countries warn about Denmark
Travel
10 things other countries warn about Denmark
Denmark is the greatest country to raise children
Opinion
'Denmark is the greatest country on earth to raise children'
What to know about renting in Copenhagen
Features
What to know about renting in Copenhagen
Five Danish life lessons for the rest of us
Society
Danish life lessons for the rest of us
Industry leaders' plea: Treat foreigners better
Business & Money
Industry leaders' plea: Treat foreigners better
VIDEO: How Denmark saved a small Iowa town
International
VIDEO: How Denmark saved a small Iowa town
Third season of Broen will be 'more Danish'
Culture
Third season of Broen will be 'more Danish'
Copenhagen’s most colourful must-see streets
Features
Take a trip down Copenhagen’s most colourful must-see streets
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

2,348
jobs available