Odumosu, Temi. ‘Open Images or Open Wounds? Colonial Past and Present in the City of Copenhagen’. Openness: Politics, Practices, Poetics, Ed. Susan Kozel, Living Archives, 2016,
It started with the drawn head of an anonymous brown-skinned girl with a cornrow hairstyle, who piqued my curiosity as she began to appear randomly on a poster here and there, emblazoned on shopper bags under the arms of Danish students, and then in a visual cacophony at the co-operative supermarket where she took her place on the packs of the coffee brand she represented, and was used liberally to decorate ser- viettes, paper cups and even the faces of clocks. Drawn in profile with a small rounded nose, sullen eyes, and elegant high cheekbones, I remember thinking that she looked like me as a child: quiet, serious, and highly aware. The “Cirkel Kaffe Girl” was the first of many visual assaults that wrought havoc with my emotions and sens- es, whilst the months and years ensued. Her ubiquity as a design motif within a largely homogenous Europe- an culture agitated my embodied sensibilities; as a scholar who works on race and representation but more directly as a Black woman commencing the slow and gradual project of dwelling in a new city—attempting to make the unknown and unfamiliar into something approximating home. The following photographic chronicle seeks to express what was difficult to say openly in moments and encounters I experienced whilst roaming in Danish public space over the last three years (2012–2015). What you will see are my hurriedly captured snapshots of discomforting objects, signs or images that restaged colonial visual strategies, recalled the plantation or the slave ship, and reproduced anachronistic racial motifs that seemed to me entirely out of place in a modern and progressive city.