New exhibition exposes modern slavery in London

23 August 2011

23 August – 20 November 2011
In partnership with Anti-Slavery International

A new exhibition at the Museum of London and Museum of London Docklands will lift the lid on the shocking reality of trafficking and forced labour in the capital. The exhibition, which opens on 23 August 2011 to coincide with the International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition, is the Museum’s first cross-site exhibition and will run until 20 November 2011.

In partnership with Anti-Slavery International, the world’s oldest human rights organisation, Freedom from: modern slavery in the capital explores the personal impact of human trafficking and slavery in London in the 21st century.

The display will include a map representing cases of slavery across greater London. It will also include the personal testimonies of those affected by slavery. These include ‘Gheeta’, trafficked from India, made to hand over all her earnings to her trafficker, as well as being forced to cook and clean for him. “I would work nearly 80 hours a week, seven days a week. He would hit me if I didn’t come home straight away after my shift.” Gheeta was also raped. “Once when I tried to stop him he said he would kill me, chop me up and send the pieces to my family.”

The exhibition also incorporates the views of those fighting to eradicate modern slavery in the capital. Kit Malthouse, London’s Deputy Mayor for Policing, who will be officially opening the exhibition, is quoted as saying: “London is a desirable place to come, so we are always going to have a tendency for traffickers to head our way. There is something so appalling about it, it just strikes so deeply. Aside from that moral duty to other human beings, I don not want London having a reputation that these things are easy to do.”

Alongside the personal stories are a series of large-scale commissioned photographs which form the centre-piece of the exhibition. Chris Steele-Perkins from Magnum Photos has taken eleven images; capturing survivor journeys and thoughts as well as a survivor now campaigning against slavery and trafficking.

The exhibition will cross both of the museum’s sites. A photographic display will be exhibited in the Inspiring London Gallery at the Museum of London, and at the Museum of London Docklands, a survivors’ quilt lent by Survivors Connect will hang alongside new patches created by women who have suffered trafficking.

The exhibition also coincides with the launch of Anti-Slavery International’s new Slavery-Free London campaign. Aidan McQuade, Director of Anti-Slavery International, said: “With the London Olympics less than a year away, there are increasing concerns that traffickers will target the capital by promising non-existent jobs to vulnerable people as a way of luring them into conditions of forced labour and other slavery-like practices . The stark reality of slavery today will hopefully shock visitors to the exhibition into joining our Slavery-Free London campaign to curtail the problem in the run up to the Olympics and beyond.”

Sarah Gudgin, Curator of Contemporary Collecting at the Museum of London, said: “The exhibition discusses the idea that human trafficking and enslavement are neither confined to history nor something that happens elsewhere in the world. The underlining resilience of the people who have survived and the commitment of Londoners who actively support survivors and are helping end this exploitation, are all examined in the display.

The life story of survivor and campaigner Mende Nazer who is featured in the exhibition is being presented by Feelgood Theatre in the London premiere of Slave – A Question of Freedom, which runs at Riverside Studios from 6 September to 1 October. Based on the book ‘Slave’ (Virago) by Mende Nazer and Damien Lewis, the play tells the compelling real life story of a young woman’s account of being sold into slavery and her subsequent fight for freedom.

The exhibition demonstrates that London is proactive, forward thinking and committed in its challenge to end trafficking and as a place where personal and collective courage, compassion and conviction abound.

Freedom from: modern slavery in the capital has free entry and opens 23 August 2011 and runs until 20 November 2011.

Notes to Editors

1.    For more information or images, please contact Nicola Kalimeris on 020 7814 5511 / nkalimeris@msueumoflondon.org.uk

2.    Museum of London, Museum of London Docklands and Museum of London Archaeology seek to inspire a passion for London. The Museums are open daily 10am – 6pm and are FREE to all.

3.    Anti-Slavery International is the world’s oldest human rights organisation and campaigns for the eradication of slavery, exposing current cases, supporting local organisations to release the minimum 12.3 million people in slavery, and the implementation of international laws against slavery. www.antislavery.org. For further information contact Paul Donohoe, Anti-Slavery International Press Officer on +44 20 7501 8934 or p.donohoe@antislavery.org
4.    Magnum Photos is an international photographic cooperative founded in 1947 by four pioneering photographers and owned by its photographer-members. With powerful individual vision, Magnum photographers chronicle the world and interpret its peoples, events, issues and personalities. Through its four editorial offices in New York, London, Paris and Tokyo, and a network of fifteen sub-agents, Magnum Photos provides photographs to the press, publishers, advertising, television, galleries and museums across the world. www.magnumphotos.com. For more information and further images please contact Jonathan Bell, Publishing Rep on Jonathanb@magnumphotos.co.uk or 020 7490 9701

5.    Chris Steele-Perkins was born in Rangoon in 1947 and moved to London with his family at the age of two.  At the University of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne he studied psychology and worked for the student newspaper.  In 1971 he started working as a freelance photographer in London, joining the social photography collective Exit in 1975.  Steele-Perkins joined Magnum Photos in 1979 and has worked extensively in the developing world, in Japan and in the UK.  He is the author of numerous books including The Teds (1979), The Pleasure Principle (1989), Tokyo Love Hello (2006) and England, My England (2009).  He is the receipient of the World Press Photo, Oskar Barnak and Robert Capa Gold Medal awards and his work is held in the various collections including the V&A, London, the Corcoran Gallery, Washington D.C and the Tokyo Fuji Art Museum, Tokyo.  His exhibition ‘England, My England’ continues to tour extensively.

6.    Feelgood Theatre Productions have been creating award winning theatre for 17 years.  They have distinguished themselves with an array of award-winning classics and pioneering new commissions regionally, in the West End with Not About Heroes and Eloquent Protest and internationally in Africa.  Slave – A Question of Freedom won the Pete Postlethwaite, Manchester Eve News, Best New Play Award, the NW Review Best New Play, Best Director and Best Actress following its world premier at The Lowry in Nov 2010.  It was also performed in the House of Lords.  For further information please contact Ian Cuthbert, Press & PR Manager, Riverside Studios on 020 8237 1025 or iancuthbert@riversidestudios.co.uk

7.    Slave – A Question of Freedom
6 September – 1 October   Previews 6 & 7 September.
Special Event: Slavery – Break the Silence – Sun 18 September 2pm
Special matinee with post show discussion with panel guests, Mende Nazer, Damien Lewis, Baroness Cox Mukesh Kapila CBE, hosted by the writer Natasha Walter
www.riversidestudios.co.uk, box office: 020 8237 1111
Tickets £18 (£15 concs) Previews £10. Studio 2 Gala night (8th Sept) £20
Touring to Liverpool Unity Theatre, 4 – 8 Oct, Guildhall Theatre Derby, 18 – 22nd Oct