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Dread Scott’s Slave Uprising Reenactment

Published October 2014

The Art Newspaper

The artist Dread Scott is planning to restage the largest slave rebellion in US history as a performance piece. The New York based artist is inviting hundreds of participants to wear period costumes and carry arms as they trace the steps of the German Coast Uprising of 1811, a walk of more than 25 miles from sugar plantations near present-day LaPlace towards the city of New Orleans, Louisiana.

“The leaders of the 1811 uprising, and the many enslaved people who were part of the revolt are heroes whose vision and audacity should inspire people today, as it did in the past,” Scott writes on the Kindle Project’s website, a New Mexico-based grant making organization, “Their rebellion is a profound “what if?” story. It had a real chance of succeeding—what would that have meant for US and world history?”

The artist is in the development stage of the project; the most optimistic deadline sets the performance for January 2016. Confirmed seed funding and support comes from the North Carolina-based institute McColl Center, New York-based foundation Art Matters, and the Kindle Project. Scott hopes that the remaining funds will come from a mix of individual donors, crowdsourcing and foundation grants.

Scott has long presented socially and politically challenging work. His 1989 installation What is the Proper Way to Display an American Flag became the centre of controversy when on display at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. The installation comprised an American flag placed on the gallery floor, photographs of flag-draped coffins and images of flags being burned. Visitors were asked to record their thoughts on the proper way to display the Stars and Stripes in a notebook—but had to walk across the flag to get there. President Bush Sr, declared the installation “disgraceful”.

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