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gammelt Holtengaard Denmark, museum Valkhof Nijmegen, Bonnefanten Maastricht

Phases of Sugar, commissioned by Gammelt Holtegaard for the show ‘Colonial Stories-power and people’, is a work with regard to the rich sugar history of Denmark.

In 2017 Denmark “commemorated” that it sold the Virgin Islands to the United States 100 years ago. Hundred faces of black men, women and children are cast in plaster and covered with blood and caramelized sugar. The faces are placed on the museum floor so the public is forced to walk around them carefully. Sugar and blood are inextricably linked, because during the production process enslaved people lost limbs and blood ended up in the raw sugar.

The faces also refer to death masks, which were made in earlier times to capture the last facial expression of the deceased. But they also have connotations with the physical anthropological research that was performed on black people during slavery and colonialism. Since there are many historical connections between the Netherlands and Denmark, Phases of Sugar is simultaneously shown in Denmark with the installation Blood Sugar at Cargo in Context in Amsterdam.

photography AatJan Renders

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