The Family and the Slaves

Carl Johan De Geer’s exhibition is an artistic interpretation of the shocking encounter with his own family’s dark past.

Visit the exhibition

When: Februari 17—September 1, 2024
Where: Floor 3
Free admission

One day in the 00s, in a grocery store, a tall black man approached me. “Do you know that your ancestor owned a slave station in Ghana?” I got a mental punch in the face that day.

Carl Johan De Geer

In Carl Johan De Geer’s exhibition “The Family and the Slaves”, furniture, fabrics, and images have been combined into seven different installations. They tell the story of the confrontation with his own family’s involvement in slavery in the 1600s. The hands-on work of nailing and carpentry on the installations can be seen as a way of processing this shocking discovery.

Palatset och källaren; Den förfärliga upptäckten. Photo: Johan Stigholt.

The exhibition raises several questions. How can we relate to evil in the past? What role do these events play for us today? What is our time’s blind spot? History does not belong solely to the past, as one might think. Events that took place several hundred years ago affect us here and now.

Adelns hemligheter. Photo: Johan Stigholt.

Carl Johan De Geer

Carl Johan De Geer, born in 1938, has worked with film, photography, textiles, painting, literature, graphics, and scenography for more than half a century.

Newly produced parts in the exhibition

Photo: Johan Stigholt.

Brazil on Södermalm

In 1832, the butcher owner Peder Jonas Askergren from Södermalm was on a trip to London. He brought back with him the panoramic wallpaper titled “Les vues du Brésil” (Views of Brazil). This vibrant visual narrative depicts colonized Brazil, showcasing slave labor, wild animal hunting, and brutal violence. The romantic landscape is set against a dramatic natural backdrop with exotic greenery. The images feature naked men and women from indigenous communities, as well as partially clothed African individuals and formally dressed European whites. This captivating wallpaper adorned Askergren’s gazebo in a garden on Bondegatan for over 90 years.

Photo: Anna Furumark.

Newly discovered photographs of Swedish slave owners and enslaved individuals

Just weeks before the exhibition’s opening, the City Museum found a collection of portraits that had never been shown before. Among these images, we encounter named Swedes who were slave owners on St. Barthelemy, as well as four former Swedish slaves. Most of the photographs date back to the 1860s and 1870s. Interestingly, some of these photographs contain written stories on the reverse side. For instance, there’s the faithful former slave Cathrine, who gave her photograph to her former owner, Miss Augusta, in the hope of being remembered.

Archaeological finds

You can also see archaeological finds from a sugar mill on Södermalm where molasses from the Caribbean was refined in the 1700s.

The Exhibition

The exhibition is produced by Norrköping Art Museum. It has previously been shown at Södertälje Art Hall and Kalmar Art Museum. The exhibition parts “Brazil in Södermalm” and the archaeological finds are produced by the Stockholm City Museum.

In collaboration with Norrköping Art Museum.