Bunt bemalter großer Globus, der in einer Fußgängerzone steht

The world reimagined

The world reimagined

An artistic intervention in public space in the UK

From August 13th to October 31st 2022, a total of 103 artist-designed globes were publicly displayed in seven cities across the UK. The globes, which were designed by various artists from the United Kingdom, address the colonial entanglements of Great Britain and deal with 10 different themes ranging from “Mother Africa” to “Echoes in the present” and “Reimagine the future”. Among other things, the artworks are intended to show how the transatlantic enslavement trade still shapes the present and invite us to reflect together on how racial justice can be realised in the future. Flensburg also has direct links to British colonialism at least through the import and processing of rum from Jamaica after the end of its affiliation to Denmark in 1864. Thus, looking at and engaging with British projects on racial justice and on coming to terms with colonialism and enslavement is meaningful in several ways: on the one hand, as a comparison and stimulus for activities in Flensburg, Denmark and Germany, but also with reference to the intertwined histories of European colonialisms.

The globes were set up by the initiative “The World Reimagined”, a non-profit art education project that deals with Britain’s colonial entanglements. The aim of the project is to change the British public’s understanding of the transatlantic trade in enslaved black people.

Colorful globe exhibited in the pedestian zone of Leeds

The exhibitions in public space are accompanied by a digital platform dedicated to nine of the 10 themes. Through a digital collection containing a great variety of exhibits, users can learn about pre-colonial African history, enslavement, Britain’s colonial legacy, Black resistance struggles in the past and present, contemporary injustices with origins in the transatlantic enslavement trade, and transnational Black culture. This digital exhibition, designed with the help of the Heritage Fund, will, according to the initiative, “enable us to rethink our shared past, present and future”.

Photo: Globe in Leeds city centre, Tim Green.

“The World Reimagined” as an intervention in public space is an example of the transformative potential of politics of memory. In order to reimagine the future, dominant narratives of the past and present must be challenged. By remembering the stories of the transatlantic enslavement trade, the artworks together with the digital information platform enable a different perspective on the present and thus a new starting point from which to shape the future. The participatory approach with many accompanying events enables an intensive exchange, while the website with the digital platform offers a lasting resource. “The World Reimagined” shows that public remembrance does not necessarily require permanent monuments, but that temporary interventions are also possible.