Open Call for participation - The Return of the Slaves

Open call for Participation in the Performance


The Return of the Slaves

Elmina Castle, Cape Coast, Ghana.

3rd-4th July 2015


 Deadline for registering: 25th May 2015


"We are captives... conquered in the mind by these miraged chains of institutional struggles. Humanity has fallen apart and our neighbours are perceived objects of manipulations. Our reasoning and morals can only be governed by architectural doctrines that demolished the powers of our mind."


crazinisT artisT, in collaboration with the Department of Painting and Sculpture, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology ( KNUST ) , is calling for volunteers to participate in this performance project, which will take place within the Elmina Slave Dungeon from Friday, 3rd to Saturday 4th July 2015.


The Return of the Slaves will be a 12-hour durational performance staged overnight from 6:00 pm to 6:00am as an enactment of contemporary human slavery and the series of human violence within and outside Africa.


This performative engagement investigate the ostensible ‘Dungeons without Wall’ as a social process in our contemporary time. The performance evokes the unpleasant objectification of humanity as an institutional or private patronage and consumption of the body in relation to time, displacement and redefinition of cultural identity.



Who can apply?

  • Applicants should be AT LEAST 18 years of age and NO OLDER than 55 years by 28th June 2015
  • All are eligible to participate regardless of their protected characteristics: culture, race, genders, sexuality, disability, nationality, ethnicity and religion
  • Participation is accepted from any kind of professions who are interested in the project. You don’t have to be an artist to apply




Please read carefully the following details of the performance before registering


Performance Description & Rules

  • Participants will stay in the slave dungeon from Friday, 6:00pm to Saturday, 6:00am (12 hours overnight) with loosed chains on their hands and legs
  • Participants are not to communicate verbally during the 12-hour stay but they will be free to move within the dungeon
  • Participants will wear only red wrappers around their waist and on the breast (females).
  • Participants are not to exit until the end the performance
  • No physical pain will be inflicted
  • The public will be able to view performance in the dungeon by lantern or torchlight only


Food and Drink

  • Participants are not to eat any food during the 12-hour stay in the dungeon, they will be given only water
  • Food will be provided to participants at the end of the 12-hour stay in the dungeon



Time outline for the event

Friday 3rd July to Saturday 4th July, 2015


3rd of July

  • 9:00am - Participants arrival at Elmina castle
  • 9:00am to 2:00pm - Final registration
  • 2:00pm to 4:00pm - Short presentations and artists chat with participants
  • 5:30pm - Opening ceremony
  • 6:00pm - Participants will be locked in the dungeon
  • 6:00pm to 9:00pm - Public Viewing I
  • 9:00pm to 4:00am - ​No ​public viewing. Participants remain in the dungeon


4th of July

  • 4:00am to 6:00am - Public Viewing II
  • 6:00am - Participants will exit the dungeon and will be unchained
  • 6:30am- Participants will be fed in the open to end the performance




To participate in The Return of the Slaves please click:

     Key Sponsors and Supporters of the performance

For any inquiry contact

Write a comment

Comments: 23
  • #1

    Hassan (Monday, 06 April 2015 12:29)

    This will be great Vab. Good luck on this journey...

  • #2

    ASI (Thursday, 09 April 2015 00:23)

    i'm confident this upcoming performance will leave a good mark in the history of the Arts in Ghana. Cheers, Vab; we'll endeavour to be there

  • #3

    Omijori Tola (Thursday, 09 April 2015 20:46)


  • #4

    Malaika H Kambon (Thursday, 09 April 2015 21:57)

    A re-inactment of Manifest Destiny - and calling it an artistic endeavor -
    is inappropriate...It makes me concerned about the fact that I seem to be the only person wondering if there is a point to this? Why would AFRIKAN people want to return to enslavement - subjectively or objectively? It would be more interesting to seriously study AFRIKA prior to enslavement/imperial interventions/colonialism, etc. It is more important (for white people in particular) to recognize that AFRIKA birthed the origins of humanity, and that AFRIKAN peoples' history did not begin with enslavement. It is even more informative and instructional to consider the correct responses to the situation(s) in which we presently find ourselves - such as the recent AFRI-Scape Cartography exhibition and series of lectures described here: http://krowswork.com/duanedeterville.html?hc_location=ufi My next question is why is the Ghanaian government co-signing this, and precisely what issues is this exhibition(ism) supposed to resolve - artistically or otherwise? And it is so incorrect for a white person to be proposing something like this. It is tantamount to having a great white wall of colonialism suddenly erected in your living room - for your 'edification' enlightenment, and for your own good...like a big STOP sign to any forward thinking AFRIKAN progress. This is wrong.

  • #5

    odhis (Friday, 10 April 2015 02:26)

    dear kambon....allow me to ask what u get by the term mordern day slavery....it is not that literal is it....this project is about freedom of mind and personal definition....

  • #6

    Malaka Grant (Friday, 10 April 2015 21:15)

    I have to say, this is pretty disgusting. If someone went to Auschwitz and asked for participants to sign up to sit in a gas chamber for 12 hours so the public could view it, the entire world would go up in SMOKE! I don't know what this fascination is with Black bodies and Black suffering is, but it needs to stop, and it CERTAINLY shouldn't be exploited on African soil.

    This is so disrespectful. If you want to explore human/mental enslavement, you can begin right at the offices of the Ghana Museum board and the office of the president. They should all be chained and fed water for 12 hours.

  • #7

    Kinna (Friday, 10 April 2015 22:05)

    You want to perform slavery. You actually feel a need to reenact slavery. Because all the documentation, the writing, the movies, the plays, the art isn't enough, You have to go to Elmina and desecrate sacred ground. How shameful of you but also how unimaginative, how stunted your vision of art is. I echo Malaka above: how disrespectful.

  • #8

    Shirley Knight (Friday, 10 April 2015 23:08)

    Art is emotional expression.
    Art is liberating.
    Art brings social and cultural change.

    This is not Art.
    This is the visual implementation of a psychological abnormality known as "Learned Helplessness".
    Slavery has destroyed your selfworth and value to the point where replicating it is all you deem as your heritage.
    My heritage is full of Fanti Safo groups, festivals and brightly coloured cloth.
    Why must our past fall from grace be glorified?

    These are the reasons why Diasporean Africans cringe. This is disrespectful and cannot be allowed to happen. I refuse to be disgraced by my own country.

    No. Never. No.

  • #9

    Carren Clarke (Saturday, 11 April 2015 04:34)

    I've have read all of the comments , and I found them very interesting . We do have a modern day slavery . Look at us ! as African , African American . We are the only group of people who do not always support one another. We are always looking for the negative in situations instead of offering positive ideas . You complain it's embarrassing to the people . So I say what is it you would like to have done and suggest it to the artist . And please remember words can also kill . So people think about what you say because others also are judging you .

  • #10

    Selali (Saturday, 11 April 2015 06:03)

    Carren, you read the comments but you clearly did not understand much of what was written. It is obvious what is being suggested to the artist: Scrap this idea! It is a bad one!

    Just to clear any further doubt, what I would like the artist to do is NOT put up this sorry display of self-loathing.

    What is the point to behind this? Really? Does the world really need reminding the Black is the color of slavery? Will it stop the senseless killing of black people all over the world? Do you expect comisseration? Notoriety? What?

    Please blackman there are ways of elevating yourself without trampling your people on the way there. Reconsider, think...this does nothing for any of us except dig the chain deeper into bone.

  • #11

    Oteanankanduro (Saturday, 11 April 2015 11:20)

    I have no problem with reenacting slavery. I dont object to pre-colonialism either because both still and will always be a part of African history. As much as we want the world to know that we have moved on and want to show the the African culture, we mustnt leave out the gory side too. 'All history' is important for the present generation and for the generations to come.

  • #12

    J.Wl Stork (Sunday, 12 April 2015 13:14)

    I understand most of the critical arguments above. I am a German, so I have to live with an awful history of our country... The performance of GrazinistArtist makes tangible what was done to millons of African humans, the grief of every single individual, how the people of Africa had to suffer, what has weakened the whole continent and has destroyed in immense magnitude. In the name of the capitalistic "Christian" and "Islamic" greed for power. The acceptance of the slavery included the initial spark for racism. It was a huge criminal business in everybody wanted to participate and therefore a large part of the western cultures changed to violent criminals. Slavery is one of the biggest crimes that happened in our common world and was continued in the colonial times. It is the root of indescribable cruelty against humanity. The fortress Elima is really no sacred place. It is a monument of the evil, the greed for power of ruthless European countries. This is not only African history it is our common history... We prefer to ignore bad recollections or even to deny everything because it hurts us… but here it needs the artist who proceeds the significant past in penetrably actually form and provocate relevant questions… As we can see in these many comments above it's already working. CrazinistArtist indeed wants not to injure anybody, he wants to accuse, he wants to make understandable what has changed cultures in biggest magnitude ... and yes it is great art, and it shows the response for human life… It makes us understand better the mechanism of opression. At last he shows his respect for the victims of those events.

  • #13

    Stephen Abosi Smith (Tuesday, 14 April 2015 07:58)

    That's great and wonderful
    Keep the good up

  • #14

    lior kariel (Tuesday, 14 April 2015 11:25)

    The proposal is very problematic.
    Very high risk !!!!
    You make a call and limit the concept
    Limit the statement on slavery
    Anyway successfully

  • #15

    crazinisT (Thursday, 16 April 2015 20:47)

    Let's Rethink humanity regardless of one's claims of identity.
    If there is anything sacred, it is human not those things created by human nor our socially constructed ideas.
    The slaves will never return but humanity can return and that should be possible in our contemporary understanding. If it becomes visible that humanity has return, what then become the borders of identity? Shared love and responsibilities should overtake our concept and ideas of identity-Belonging.
    Is there a need for human borders and should we have visa for this invisible borders?
    Shall we continue to permit our religions, ethnicity, cultures, race, gender, sexuality, language and whatever to destroy human relationship? The quest for this socially constructed identities and supremacy only promote human violence and destruction of valuable lives.
    What difference does it make when we are made to believe slavery is a history and yet marginalized individual or groups are still been mistreated, brutalized and discriminated against in our so-called civilized societies.
    There is bloodshed all over the world in the name of these social quest of supremacy and Africa is not an exception. In reference we can flash back at Boko haram and recent atrocity in Kenya where many lives have been wasted. Just a few to mention among the thousands of violence around us. Don't we think our greed for all forms of supremacy over marginalized groups or individuals has killed our sense of being human?

  • #16

    Joshua (Thursday, 14 May 2015 12:52)


  • #17

    Thomason (Sunday, 17 May 2015 01:32)

    The truth of the matter is that, the vision of this act does not have any link to ART... I really disagree with the idea of portraying the return of slavery.... We no more slaves so why do you have to use 'the return of slaves' it is totally wrong.....

  • #18

    crazinisT (Monday, 18 May 2015 02:13)

    Thomason, Thanks for your opinion. First of all,, art has no singular definition and it is still being redefine as time-race from artist to artist. This performance project is a multidisciplinary art that engages people into social dialogues of our contemporary existence as sacred beings. It is a reflection of history that question the present state of humanity under the various forms of crimes against humanity and suppression in our 'so-called' post-slavery societies and beyond. Slavery is no longer an issue of captives in literal chains and dungeons even though there are still many forms of human trafficking, but rather it is the focus on human borders and captives of identity-supremacy struggles, mentally enslaved. Africa as a victim of slavery, rebirths many forms of human violence which invisibly are reincarnation of slavery.
    Thomason, I agree with you when you said,'we are no more slaves...' but then i think it could only be true, possible and real if human relationship is reconsidered regardless of sociocultural identities, racial stereotypes, gender prejudice,religious supremacy etc. An example of this dehumanization is the contradiction of xenophobic violence in post apartheid society, South Africa. This is just one among the many violence and social discrimination which has been embraced by our present world as a result of mental slavery.

  • #19

    Nseabasi Akpan (Saturday, 30 May 2015 08:58)

    Open your eyes and minds look all around you,is Africa truly free politically and economically? Are Africans not slaves in there own country...hmmmmmm!its truly the return of the slaves....my brother more power to your elbows!!!!love from Nigeria

  • #20

    Tawia (Saturday, 13 June 2015 09:48)

    This is art in it's purest form and one purpose of art is to document things. We forget that the future lies in the past. Until we revisit and overcome the pain of the past, we can never move forward.

    And who says Africa is liberated? Up to 90% of this country's budget is derived from foreign aid which comes with conditions and you are talking about freedom?

    The people who have disgraced Africa most are our leaders and not the artist. At this point I'm liking the last two sentences in your comment Malaka Grant - Yes! they should all be locked up as well.

    I have met a lot of black people who have rejected, forgotten or did not know their history. Some even said, despite their coffee colour, that they are creole not Africans. It is a sickness called the weakness of the ego.

    This enactment is therefore very relevant.

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