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  • The Expert

The Expert

Sofie Thorsen
Afternoon in the Uganda Forest
The Expert / Afternoon in the Uganda Forest is an artist book based on two installations with the same titles. Through photographs, drawings and texts the work looks at some of the imaginations about and projections of Africa in Denmark, in the context of Danish development aid.

Since the 1950s Denmark has had an ambitious programme for development aid. After founding Danida, Danish International Development Assistance, in 1962, Denmark sent so-called “experts” to work in Danish and international projects in a number of third world countries, in particular in sub-Saharan Africa.

The Expert is staged at the teachers’ compound at a World Bank secondary school in Zambia in the 1970s, and describes the building process of a pavilion in the style of a traditional Zambian hut in the garden of a teacher. It looks at some of the strategies that the “experts” would apply in order to locate themselves in relation to the local situation, by depicting and adopting certain parts of the local tradition and staging them carefully.

Afternoon in the Uganda Forest evolves around the parallel narratives of the post war development of a suburban area near Copenhagen, and the International and Danish Development Aid in the same period. In the area around Ugandaskoven (Uganda Forest) on Vestamager close to Copenhagen, the streets are named after African localities and thereby literally inscribe Africa into a Danish geography. The area has developed since the 1950s from a rather precarious settlement into a wealthy middle class Danish suburb, a history of growth closely related to the growth in the expenses for development aid.