La Bouche du Roi: an artwork by Romuald Hazoumé is a thought-provoking work of art 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.
The artwork was acquired in 2007, with support from the Art Fund and the British Museum Friends, to mark the bicentenary of the Parliamentary abolition of the transatlantic slave trade.
The Herbert, Coventry
3 April – 31 May 2009
Funded by Arts Council England with additional support through the generosity of the Dorset Foundation