Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Abolition Memorial

Les Johnson - Model for Slavery Memorial (2008) I.C. enhancedThis model by Les Johnson for a Slavery Memorial went on display at City Hall yesterday and will remain on show until 1 December. Memorial 2007 aims to raise £1.5m to pay for the sculpture and a memorial garden in Hyde Park. Good to see it isn't an abstract design, but it seems an overly complex tableau of poseurs celebrating the end of slavery. And sexist. Why no female slave? Why no drama? Why no pathos? This artwork needs a Michelangelo to bring it to life, and no more than one male slave, one female and one child: the nuclear family being split up and sold off. Given appropriate artistry, this would have great impact. Who is this memorial for? The descendants of slaves or for smug white folks celebrating a good deed in abolishing slavery? Come on. Rethink this inappropriate model before it becomes a costly failure.


At 20/8/08, Blogger Robert said...

I did a post on this one some months ago Ian, and found myself apologising for the female content. I rather agree that the memorial should be a family group to express the horror of it. The problem is that slavery still continues in various guises across the world and by some media accounts here too.


At 21/8/08, Blogger Coxsoft Art said...

Hi, Robert

That's a nice selection of seductive slave girls you have there. They're beautiful works of art, but designed to tittilate, rather than to get across the horror of slavery. There's a painting by Francois Auguste Biard - The Slave Trade - which shows a female slave being branded with a hot iron. That gets the message across!

Years ago I read "Sins of the Fathers" by James Pope-Hennessy. The author had deeply researched the slave trade. I've never forgotten that book.

Yup, the slave trade is alive and well and living in Ghetto London. There are 3 main groups: 1) African children trapped as unpaid servants - a relatively small group -, 2) male workers smuggled in by criminal gangs and forced to work for nothing until they've paid off their debt to the people smugglers (Did you know we're self-sufficient in cannabis growth, thanks to Vietnamese gangs and their slaves?) and 3) Eastern European girls trapped in brothels and forced to work as prostitutes until their debt is paid off. 50% of London's prostitues are estimated to be East European girls.

This is one reason why I've taken to referring to "Ghetto" London.


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