unlocked/reconnected: thierry oussou

June 1 - September 1, 2020

In the context of Unlocked/Reconnected, an exhibition celebrating art institutions re-opening after the lockdown, the Oude Kerk presents the video What is Left of the Sugar Cubes (2019) by artist Thierry Oussou (Allada, Benin, 1988). The video is installed in De Librije.

The Oude Kerk is one of many museums and galleries throughout the country participating in Unlocked/Reconnected with the presentation of one single artwork. Together, all places for contemporary art show the importance of solidarity, reflection and inspiration. Please see this page to find out more about the project.

Thierry Oussou created What Is Left of the Sugar Cubes? in Brazil, for the 21st Contemporary Art Biennial Sesc_Videobrasil. In this film, which is about remembering, he reflects on the collective and transatlantic aspect of the collections of two Brazilian museums.

In 2018 Museu Nacional, Brazil’s oldest scientific institute, went up in flames. The greater part of its collection was lost. Immediately after the disaster, scientists rallied to save as many artefacts from the ruins as possible. Elsewhere in the same city, Rio de Janeiro, a mass grave was found during construction work in the 1990s. Research showed that the remains were those of tens of thousands of people who had been enslaved and abducted from Africa and taken to Brazil in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The site’s owners subsequently decided to establish the Museu Memorial on the land, in memory of the people who died there.

The starting point of What Is Left of the Sugar Cubes? is the heritage that the two museums lost or found respectively. Using sugar to symbolize history, Thierry Oussou reflects on the collective, transatlantic aspect of the collections of the two museums. How do we remember and preserve? The film shows that the past continues to haunt us, even when its traces have been erased or are neglected.