« The King’s mouth » Romuald Hazoumé

The King’s mouth pays homage to the fate suffered by victims of the slave trade, and also evokes the modern slave trade that the petrol traffickers along the border between Benin and Nigeria are engaged in.  By putting on this fascinating artwork by Romuald Hazoumé, who was born in1962 in Porto Novo (Republic of Benin), the Quai Branly Museum reminds us that contemporary plays an important role in its programme, alongside its older collections.  Indeed, it’s all about giving a voice to artists from outside Europe who challenge the contradictions that their own cultures throw up, and the ways in which they are perceived in the West.

This installation took its inspiration from an 18c engraving of a slave-ship filled with slaves, and it involves more than 300 masks made from petrol canisters, which symbolise the slaves.  Scents and sounds fill the installation : a litany of the slaves’ names, songs and lamentations. Trays are loaded with cowries, tobacco and glass beads, recalling the currencies that were used at the time.

 This artwork was first conceived in 1997 by Romuald Hazoumé and it was presented to the Menil Collection (Houston) in 2005; it is constantly evolving and illustrates the artist’s committed stance against human suffering and social injustice.   It makes a plea for liberty, respect and dignity.


56 pages in 15 cm x 18.5 cm format
50 colour illustrations
price : 5 €
isbn 2-915133-31-X / 2-0801-1623-1


A co-publication by the musée du quai Branly/Flammarion

exhibition curator

Germain Viatte, General Curator of cultural heritage, former director of museography at the Quai Branly Museum, and now scientific advisor to the President of the museum,  Stéphane Martin.


Romuald Hazoumé

André Magnin

More information

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