Two heads. They are black with big blue eyes, a wide row of teeth framed by huge red lips. They looked smiling a string which, a moment before, into, and which explodes under a violent shock. This liberation is the abolition of slavery, to be decided by the national Assembly in 1794, in full revolutionary period. This mural on canvas was carried out by Hervé di Rosa in 1991. Commissioned by the RATP, it has its place in a corridor of the Palais bourbon, which houses the national Assembly. Through the twelve performances, the works portray the defining moments of the legislative history, French.
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28 years after its installation, the canvas is again in the news. A petition asking for its removal, launched by Mame-Fatou Niang, university professor, and Julien Suaudeau, a writer, has already collected more than 1400 signatures. Both are strong proponents of black identity. Mame-Fatou Niang has made a film, Mariana black , which recounts the journey of seven women. Julien Suaudeau wrote The black Blood of men , a novel about the legacy of abuses in the colonies of Africa. It is at a screening of his film at the national Assembly, march 8, Mame-Fatou Niang discover the work of Hervé di Rosa. According to the text accompanying the petition, the representation of characters black borrows “both the advertisements Banania and Tintin in the Congo” . “This “work” is an insult that is demeaning and dehumanizing to the millions of victims of trafficking, as well as all of their descendants”, say the authors.
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They denounced, inter alia, that the canvas is exposed in a place as symbolic as the Assembly. For them, his presence in the “people’s house” that is the Palace Bourbon, and his presentation “in the general indifference, adds insult to the injury”. The mural is located just after the entrance of the visitors, in a hallway, the curious pass through to get into a room where a film is projected institutional on the Assembly. Contacted, the national Assembly declares to have had no knowledge of any negative reaction from visitors to the view of the fresco.
A representation pop cartoon-of-slavery
The representation of two freed slaves wife the style of the “dyromythologie” that are the trademark of Hervé di Rosa. A universe, to the limits of the COMICS, mixing a representation pop cartoon a imagination of childlike. The artist represents and all of its characters with big bulging eyes, and lips are oversized. Imaging that, when it is to commemorate the abolition of slavery, gives rise to criticism.
another fresco of the Assembly commemorating the universal suffrage for men of 1848. There are characteristics of the style of Hervé di Rosa. Hervé di Rosa
The two authors do not deny the coherence of the graphic style of the fresco in the middle of the work-general Hervé di Rosa. However, in a column published in Obs , they consider that there “must be singularly ignorant or ill – intentioned does not see the offense” that the style of the artist is “in this context”. For Mame-Fatou Niang and Julien Suaudeau, a monument or a work of the purpose of the memorial should not give “a scene pop, déréalisante, the abuses of the past”.
Hervé di Rosa has responded to the controversy in the columns of the World , claiming to be a victim of censorship. “Regardless of their color, their gender, or their physical characteristics, my characters have big red lips,” he said. It is for him “a terrifying, to stir up the racism, which really exists, and stopping at a simple code-formal”. The artist co-founded the International Museum of Modern Art in Sète in 2001. It hosts the exhibition Kinshasa chronicles , dedicated to artists from the capital of the democratic Republic of the Congo. “Today, the censors come from where we don’t expect,” says Hervé di Rosa. “There, it saddens me that it has to come from people that I consider “my side”.”