Between criticism and reconciliation. Memorial controversies in Bordeaux: The “Les Revenants” art project

By Francesca Cozzolino


This text examines the memorial initiatives relating to the slave trade in the city of Bordeaux, based on the ethnography of an artists’ residency that took place in August 2014. Organized by a Bordeaux association, several artists of African origin were involved in the project and found themselves having to face both the objectives of a “reconciling” art and the role of “revenants” in the city’s history. The paper attempts to show how these artists, who faced the challenge of representing a past from which most of them wanted to distance themselves, became figures in the impossible task of reconciling a history whose wounds are still open and whose memory is still being debated today.


  • Contemporary art
  • Slave trade
  • Antropology
  • Politics of Memory
  • Post-colonial
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