The dignity of life and the vast possibilities to contribute to social change are central themes in the works of Sasha Huber. The works “Rentyhorn” and “Louis Who?” span across land and waters, formulating a critique against a 19th century Swiss scientist, Agassiz, a man that up until today is commemorated for his scientific merits, but who’s dark heritage of racist thinking still influences western thought.
Huber aligns herself with the Caribbean diaspora, being of mixed heritage with Swiss-Haitian roots, having a Haitian mother but unable to visit family there because of security reasons. In her earlier works historical figures such as Haitian ex-dictators Papa Doc and Baby Doc, as well as the conqueror Christopher Columbus, are held responsible for deeds done by Huber literally shooting back at the men with a staple gun, producing stark images of the men through two-dimensional sculptures on abandoned bits of plywood. Columbus, known for having “discovered” the Americas, and Haiti being one of the places, was left with around three to four million Arawak Indian killed, a fact that Sasha Huber will not allow history to forget or forgive.
Sasha Huber does not hesitate to join activists in a campaign to rename a mountain dedicated to Louis Agassiz, or to invite a historian into her artistic research around Agassiz questionable racial research in the rainforests of Brazil. Their common work is documented in official letters written in order to correct historical faultiness, and in books and on campaign websites. But, Huber never fails to deliver a strong visual artistic production, making her one of the most interesting artists within the Finnish scene of contemporary art and photography. Her practice plays with our common visual imagery, using historical visual references in her interventions such as riding a horse when coming to deliver a speech about Agassiz on Praça Agassiz in the suburbs of Rio de Janeiro, or by wearing an Inuit-looking faux fur when finally placing the plaque with the representation of Renty, a slave once photographed by Agassiz for his racist research, and now a modern day hero in contemporary culture.
Curator and writer, director of Botkyrka konsthall, Sweden