Vasco Araújo

Parque Tématico (2016)

HD Video, 8’44”, 16:9, with sound

Introduction by curator Inês Grosso

Direct slavery is just as much the pivot of bourgeois industry as machinery, credits, etc. Without slavery you have no cotton; without cotton you have no modern industry. It is slavery that has given the colonies their value; it is the colonies that have created world trade, and it is world trade that is the pre-condition of large-scale industry. Thus slavery is an economic category of the greatest importance. Without slavery North America, the roost progressive of countries, would be transformed into a patriarchal country. Wipe out North America from the map of the world, and you will have anarchy — the complete decay of modern commerce and civilisation. Cause slavery to disappear and you will have wiped America off the map of nations. Thus slavery, because it is an economic category, has always existed among the institutions of the peoples. Modern nations have been able only to disguise slavery in their own countries, but they have imposed it without disguise upon the New World. “ – Karl Marx, The Poverty of Philosophy Answer to the Philosophy of Poverty by M. Proudhon, 1847

There are many reasons for today’s forced migrations: war, geopolitical conflict, environmental disasters, socio-economic imbalances, violence, poverty, hunger, and political, religious, and ethnic persecution. In our globalised world, developed countries became the main destination for the migratory flows that originate in the developing or underdeveloped economies, particularly in Latin America, Africa, and Asia. This reality is especially favourable to the countries that receive these migrants, who add even more strength to their privileged economies. Looking back into our past, we can now see how migrant labour and the beginnings of capitalism are closely linked to colonialism. Throughout several centuries, millions of people were kidnaped and forcibly taken to the New World to serve as a slave labour force in the emerging world market of gold, silver, sugar, tobacco, cotton, and coffee. Colonisation and the slave trade were the foundations of capitalism and of globalisation. Vasco Araújo’s Parque Temático (2016) [Theme Park] portrays these violent power relations using images that refer to the history of slavery and racial segregation. Frozen icons, these statues represent black persons forever imprisoned in the condition of slavery. Evoking the memory and the encumbrance of the Portuguese colonial past, as well as the violent history of the forced migration of millions of enslaved Africans, this work invites us to reflect upon the relevance and the urgency of the issues that arise with globalisation. In this piece, Araújo focuses on the condition of the immigrant as an alien worker, a victim of discrimination and an easy prey for contemporary slavers.


Read the Curator Perspective by Inês Gross in the SCB Journal.

About the artwork

The work was available 12 October – 1 December 2017.

Online Exhibition