Woke Art Centre Celebrates Beethoven Birthday with Portrait of Composer as a Black Man
The Centre of Fine Arts in Brussels announced the celebration of the 250th birthday of German composer Ludwig van Beethoven by posting a portrait of the composer as a black African man.
The centre, also known as BOZAR, published a post on Wednesday of a still from a video entitled “Black Beethoven” by American artist Terry Adkins, which features a portrait of the late 18th and early 19th-century composer depicted a young black man with dreadlocks.
“In the work, Adkins presents a portrait of the iconic composer that slowly morphs into that of a young black man with short dreadlocks and back again. The repeated transformation of the image conveys Adkins’s unwillingness to settle the debate on Beethoven’s race,” the post explained.
In response to the mostly negative comments on the post, BOZAR added another post stating that the centre wanted to “be a place of art and culture open to all audiences, reflecting the diversity of Brussels and our society”.
The conspiracy theory that claims the German composer was a sub-Saharan African man, or had any recent African ancestry at all, has been thoroughly debunked.
As the Smithsonian Magazine noted in June, one of Beethoven’s colleagues and contemporaries, the violinist George Bridgetower, was black, however.
Over the last several years, a trend has emerged in film and television to portray historical or fictional white European figures, who have traditionally been played by white actors, as being performed by black or other ethnic minority actors.
Earlier this year, for example, it was announced that black actress Jodie Turner-Smith would be playing English Tudor queen and wife of Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn, in a television drama commissioned by Britain’s Channel 5.
In 2018, the BBC made a similar move in their adaptation of the ancient Greek epic poem the Iliad, which featured black actors in several major roles, including the legendary Greek hero Achilles.
The Charles Dickens classic David Copperfield was also cast with British-Indian actor Dev Patel as the titular character for Film 4’s 2019 movie, The Personal History of David Copperfield.
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