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Exhibition

Expression(s) décoloniale(s) #2

Decolonizing our thinking, views, and perceptions

Until November 14th 2021
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In 2018, the first edition of Expression(s) décoloniale(s) invited visitors to discover ethnographic objects taken from Nantes’s colonial institutions and examine the museum’s collection through “how one sees the Other”. The goal was to highlight “what collections do not say out loud when they evoke the Other… but quietly murmur all the same” and, in doing so, invite the museum to “decolonize thinking”. Several works by Kinshasa-born Canadian artist Moridja Kitenge Banza, on display in the permanent collection, emphasized the dialogue and complementary nature of historical and artistic viewpoints.

In May 2021, the second edition of Expression(s) décoloniale(s) will once again offer visitors the chance to discover current historical and artistic perspectives on the Transatlantic Slave Trade. By inviting the major Beninese artist, Romuald Hazoumè, and Ivoirian historian specializing in the Slave Trade, Gildas Bi Kakou, to react and interact with objects in the permanent collection, the Musée d’histoire de Nantes hopes to open up a space for fruitful exchange. 

Major African contemporary artist, Romuald Hazoumè, has also been invited to organize an itinerary of his works throughout the castle courtyard and several rooms in the museum.

Roughly twenty artworks – some of which were made especially for the museum – stand alongside objects in the permanent collection.

Romuald Hazoumè was born in 1962, in Porto-Novo, Benin. With his Yoruba origins, he was deeply marked by voodoo practices while growing up in a Catholic family. Given this dual culture, Hazoumè experienced a conflictual situation that can be seen in his syncretic body of work. In the mid-80s, he created his first sculptures using plastic jugs. With minimal intervention, his works subtly express his critical vision of certain figures in Africa’s political systems.

Hazoumè brings together different materials, debris, and obsolete objects that he either uses as such, or moulds and deforms in order to represent his vision of society, events or global problems. The artist re-examines history while preserving an immediate link to current events. His creative research has led him to complete monumental, compelling works that translate his struggle against all forms of slavery, corruption, and trafficking, acting as the ultimate testament for today’s lack of morality.

The question of migration and its consequences – which questions the western world just as much as it does the African world, while also raising the question of global inequality – has become central to his latest creations.

As part of Expression(s) décoloniale(s) #2, and in addition to this new perspective on the museum’s works, visitors can also discover the viewpoint of Ivoirian historian, Gildas Bi Kakou.

Gildas Bi Kakou wrote his doctoral thesis on the Ivorian Slave Trade in the 18th century and now focuses on studying the historical and sociological traces it has left in the Ivory Coast and the country’s collective memory. 

Visitors will learn about the importance of what is referred to as “traditionalist” African oral sources in the contemporary historical study of the Transatlantic Slave Trade. These little-known and little-used sources, allow for a better understanding of the influence and consequences of the Slave Trade on the African continent.

In room 19, visitors are invited to share their impressions, opinions, and feelings related to their experience of Expression(s) décoloniale(s) #2.