Image: La Bouche du Roi, by Romuald Hazoumé
La Bouche du Roi was created between 1997 and 2005 by Romuald Hazoumé, an artist from the Republic of Benin, West Africa. Literally translated as ‘The Mouth of the King’, the title refers to a place in Bénin from where many thousands of slaves were transported to the Americas and the Caribbean.
However, La Bouche du Roi is primarily a warning against all kinds of human greed, exploitation and enslavement, both historical and contemporary. A profound and thought-provoking artistic statement by artist Romuald Hazoumé, it is made from a combination of materials, including petrol cans, spices, and audio and visual elements, the artwork’s arrangement recalls the famous 18th-century print of the slave ship, the Brookes, which was used to great effect by Abolitionists.
A recitation of Yoruba, Mahi and Wémé names, the terrible sounds and smells of a slave ship, and a video of black market petrol-runners in modern Benin are other elements which combine to make La Bouche du Roi a truly remarkable and thought-provoking work of art in which the connections between past, present and future are made profoundly real.
Bristol’s City Museum
15 September – 28 October 2007
Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle
10 November – 3 February 2008
5 December 2008 – 1 March 2009