Vue de l'exposition "La bouche du roi, de Romuald Hazoumé"
12 Sep 2006 13 Nov 2006

Romuald Hazoumé and the King's Mouth

Give music a chance

"La bouche du roi" [The King's Mouth]", Romuald Hazoumé explains, "comes from the name of the Couffo River that the Portuguese called "a boca do rio" (mouth of the river), which the French later translated as "bouche du roi" in ignorance".

About the exhibition

This installation, which was presented for the first time in Cotonou in 1999, carries both a strong symbolic and political message. It is formed of 304 masks made from petrol canisters. Placed on the ground, the installation resembles a slave boat. Each mask has its own identity and represents a slave, with the exception of two that depict kings, one African and one European, visible on the bow of this reconstructed vessel.

A new type of slavery is born, above all linked to economic issues and a rare commodity, a source of work for the Beninese population: petrol. Hundreds of litres accumulated in canisters, potential bombs that are regularly transported by men on mopeds, "heroes of survival". Although the reality of slavery has shifted, it remains suspended in the danger of this "one-way ticket to the grave" described in 1686 in "Ballad of the Slave Trader", a 17th century poem that influenced Romuald Hazoumé.

Objects and speech merge in this installation through a soundtrack that seems to emanate from the masks themselves: a litany of slaves' names and an improvisation of songs and "Lamentations" or pleas to the Yoruba divinities to end the suffering of these men who "know not where they are going".

  • Categorie : Exhibitions
  • curator

  • Place:   Mezzanine est
  • TimeSlots:  
    From Tuesday 12 September 2006 at Monday 13 November 2006
  • Closed on monday
    Tuesday, Wednesday, Sunday:  11:00 am-07:00 pm
    Thursday, Friday, Saturday:  11:00 am-09:00 pm
  • Public:   All publics