Yassine Ben Abdallah

Yassine Ben Abdallah - © Villa Noailles Hyères

Mémoires de plantation


Mémoires de plantation

The history and culture of the oppressed are rarely embodied by material objects. Mémoires de plantation looks over the disappearance of archival materials objects that belonged to the enslaved and indentured laborers of the sugar plantations in Reunion Island. The cultural identity of the former French colony has been shaped by the monoculture of sugarcane. However, the only objects left of this history belonged to the white masters. Most of the material culture of the “othered” communities have disappeared, or have been made to disappear.

Sugar, the raw material of plantation, here becomes the narrator of this absence.

In the historical plantation estate of Villèle lies the Plantation Museum of Reunion Island, where only the master’s artifacts bear witness to the history of the sugar colony.
How can the stories of the enslaved and indentured laborers be told when there is no object testifying to their existence or experience? Through the concept of Creole museography, Ben Abdallah’s work calls for an intervention that subverts the current curatorial approach of the institution. Taking place in the sacred space of the museum, his project creates a confrontational space where ephemeral machetes made of sugar oppose the master’s artifacts, in dialogue with the slaves’ missing artifacts.

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