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© Still from Thomas Seest's video artwork, A view from St. Croix, 2017

What's on | 31.mar.2017

Video artist reconnects Copenhagen and Saint Croix

Artist Thomas Seest commemorates the centenary of Denmark's sale of the Danish West Indies to the USA with an unusual work of art. You can view it at the Copenhagen Harbour.

If you pass by the West Indian Warehouse on the Copenhagen harbour from 31 March, you will find that one of its windows now opens up directly on the busy harbour of Saint Croix. Video artist Thomas Seest shows footage from a webcam operated by a tourist agency in Christiansted on Saint Croix.

Saint Croix is one of the main islands of the US Virgin Islands (formerly known as the Danish West Indies), which were under Danish colonial rule for 250 years.

From slave ships to tourist boats

Thomas Seest says about his work:

The slave ships used to put down anchor right where you now see yachts and tour boats mooring. Danish and American tourists are particularly frequent visitors here today. I am interested in how travel agencies present the history of the place in their brochures, and in how the islands are represented in pictures like the ones from the webcam video. The Danes are still present here today.

Thomas Seest shows 24 hours of footage recorded by a web camera in Christiansted on Saint Croix, displaying it on a screen that faces out and away from the West Indian Warehouse towards the harbour of Copenhagen. In this way he once again connects the two wharves.

The video work shows how tourists are now loaded onto and out of sightseeing tour boats where enslaved people were unloaded in the past.

The dark history of the West Indian Warehouse

The West Indian Warehouse was built in the 1780s to hold goods produced by enslaved Africans on the Danish West Indies. Today the West Indian Warehouse is an exhibition venue and home to one of SMK’s collections, Den Kongelige Afstøbningssamling The Royal Cast Collection.

Curator Henrik Holm relates: “With this video work we wish to commemorate the centenary of Denmark’s sale of the Danish West Indies to the USA – and the link between the West Indian Warehouse and the harbour on Saint Croix, where Denmark once traded in slaves.”

What Lies Unspoken

This May, SMK will delve into untold stories from the Danish colonial rule in the Danish West Indies. Joining forces with the Royal Library in Copenhagen and Malmö University’s research project Living Archives, SMK focuses attention on the oft-overlooked stories of the black servants and enslaved people who worked for Danish families in the Danish West Indies.

Exhibition period: 18 May 2017 – January 2018

Practical Information

The video work is launched on 31 March – on Transfer Day, the centenary of the sale of the Danish West Indies. It can be viewed in a window of the West Indian Warehouse every day, all day, throughout the year.

The West Indian Warehouse is located at Toldbodgade 40, Copenhagen.

Updated: 12.dec.2017
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