Memory and Art

Worldwide Views Topic

The memory of slavery continues to inspire artistic creativity today. It is perpetuated in literature, theatre, music, dance and the  visual arts. Many artists draw on the memories, handing them down to new generations and relating them to contemporary forms of slavery and other challenges of our time.

How does this tragic episode in the history of humanity continue to underpin contemporary creativity? This is what lies at the heart of the event “Artists and the Memory of Slavery: Resistance, creative freedom and legacies”, held by UNESCO on Friday 4 September 2015, under the Slave Route project. It consists of a seminar, an exhibition and an artistic performance.

The seminar (9 a.m.-5.30 p.m., Room IV) brings together over a dozen artists, researchers et specialists, including musicians Ray Lema and Archie Shepp, writers Mariéme M. Ndiaye and Alain Foix, dancer Rhodnie Désir, actor Jacques Martial, director Dom Pedro and graphic artist Shuck One.

The seminar is introduced by Alain Foix. Read his article on The Question of the Influence of the Memory of slavery on Artistic Creativity Today.

The exhibition “Modern Times”, which will be inaugurated at 6 p.m. in Hall Ségur, presents 11 artists from Benin (Aston, Edwige Aplogan, Niko Dalongeville, Marius Dansou, Benjamin Déguénon, Euloge Glèlè, Richard Korblah, Romuald Mevo-Guezo, Gérard Quénum, Rémi Samuz and Dominique Zinkpè) who exchange visions with Cubans Roberto Diago and Alexis Leiva (Kcho), and Dominicans Miguelina Rivera and Chichi Reyes.

The works of art were made especially for this event and are on public display for the first time. The exhibition was organized in partnership with the association Fait à Cuba and the Galérie Vallois, where it will continue until 3 October 2015. It is one of the events organized by UNESCO in the context of International Decade for People of African Descent (2015-2024).

“Oggun Today”, an artistic performance that is also being premiered here, accompanies the exhibition, with the participation of bassist and composer David Jacob, DJ Erik el Chamaco, singer Anaïs Vathelet, percussionnist Coki Sarria and dancer Santiago Herrera Quesada.

See the Photo Gallery (© UNESCO/P. Chiang-Joo)