Remnants by Paul Emmanuel [fr]
Freedom Park, in association with the French Institute of South Africa and Art Source South Africa, presents an exhibition entitled Remnants by Paul Emmanuel, that opened on 25 June 2015.
In the Battle of Delville Wood, during the World War One, white South African servicemen fell alongside the Allies fighting against the Germans. Their black comrades, who were not allowed to carry weapons, died as labourers in camps located on the English Channel at Le Havre and Dieppe. The names of black servicemen who died were left off memorials, while those who survived were denied medals to honour their risk and suffering.
South African artist Paul Emmanuel’s counter-memorial The Lost Men France, was the only international artist’s project selected by the French government for the official World War One Centenary Commemorations Programme. It was installed in July 2014 adjacent to the Franco-British Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme, in Northern France.
Photographs of Emmanuel’s body, printed onto five silk banners, bore the names of servicemen from all nations who fell on the Western Front during World War One. Their names were pressed into Emmanuel’s skin with no reference to rank, nationality or ethnicity. By including black South African servicemen’s names, The Lost Men France also questioned their exclusion from the walls of Thiepval Memorial.
After three months of exposure to the harsh Somme elements, only remnants of these silk banners remained, hanging from the steel supports in frayed tatters. The Lost Men France was not a vast monolith of stone and mortar, but rather presented a male body as something fragile and vulnerable. It was a non-partisan, ‘antimemorial’ that talked to impermanence and forgetting.
Remnants will also showcase several photographic artworks from the artist’s previous Lost Men anti-memorials. In addition there will be an installation comprising of the remains of the silk banners that stood exposed to the elements on the Somme in France. These banners have never been exhibited in South Africa before. A short film on the artist’s production process to create the artworks for his installation will also be on view.
- The exhibition will run until 30 July 2015.