[Blackstudies-l] Denmark Gets First Public Statue of a (Caribbean) Black Woman, a ‘Rebel Queen’

Maria Lima lima at geneseo.edu
Sun Apr 1 11:39:32 EDT 2018


ivetteromero posted: " Martin Selsoe Sorensen (The New York Times) reports
on a new sculpture in Copenhagen—Denmark’s first public statue of a black
woman shows Mary Thomas, who, with two other women, led the largest labor
revolt in Danish colonial history, “Fireburn,” in Fre"
Respond to this post by replying above this line
New post on *Repeating Islands*
<http://repeatingislands.com/author/ivetteromero/> Denmark Gets First
Public Statue of a (Caribbean) Black Woman, a ‘Rebel Queen’
<http://repeatingislands.com/2018/04/01/denmark-gets-first-public-statue-of-a-caribbean-black-woman-a-rebel-queen/>
by
ivetteromero <http://repeatingislands.com/author/ivetteromero/>

[image: 01denmark-statue1-master768]

*Martin Selsoe Sorensen (The New York Times
<https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/31/world/europe/denmark-statue-black-woman.html>)
reports on a new sculpture in Copenhagen—Denmark’s first public statue of a
black woman shows Mary Thomas, who, with two other women, led the largest
labor revolt in Danish colonial history, “Fireburn,” in Frederiksted, St.
Croix. The sculptors who created I Am Queen Mary* *are Virgin Islands
artist La Vaughn Belle and Danish artist Jeannette Ehlers.*

The statue of the woman is nearly 23 feet tall. Her head is wrapped and she
stares straight ahead while sitting barefoot, but regally, in a wide-backed
chair, clutching a torch in one hand and a tool used to cut sugar cane in
the other.

In Denmark, where most of the public statues represent white men, two
artists on Saturday unveiled the striking statue that portrays a
19th-century rebel queen who led a fiery revolt against Danish colonial
rule in the Caribbean. It’s being billed as Denmark’s first public monument
to a black woman.

The sculpture was inspired by Mary Thomas, who with two other female
leaders known as “Queens” unleashed an uprising
<https://en.natmus.dk/historical-knowledge/historical-themes/danish-colonies/the-danish-west-indies/fireburn/>in
1878 called the “Fireburn.”
<https://en.natmus.dk/historical-knowledge/historical-themes/danish-colonies/the-danish-west-indies/fireburn/>
Fifty
plantations and most of the town of Frederiksted on the west coast of St.
Croix were torched, in what has been called the largest labor revolt in
Danish colonial history. “This project is about challenging Denmark’s
collective memory and changing it,” the Virgin Islands artist La Vaughn
Belle, one of two principal forces behind the statue, said in a statement
<http://www.lavaughnbelle.com/#/i-am-queen-mary/>.

[image: master675]

Though Denmark prohibited trans-Atlantic slave trafficking in 1792, it
didn’t rush to enforce the ban. The rule took effect 11 years later, and
slavery continued until 1848. “They wanted to fill the stocks first,” and
ensure enough slaves would remain to keep plantations running, said Niels
Brimnes, an associate professor from Aarhus University and a leading expert
on colonialism in Denmark.

Three decades after slavery formally ended on what are today known as the
United States Virgin Islands, conditions for the former slaves had not
improved significantly. That continued injustice fomented the uprising on
St. Croix. Mary Thomas was tried for her role in the rebellion and ferried
across the Atlantic to a women’s prison in Copenhagen. The statue created
in tribute to her, called “I Am Queen Mary, <https://www.iamqueenmary.com/>”
now sits in front of what was once a warehouse for Caribbean sugar and rum,
just more than a mile from where she was jailed. [. . .]

The Danish artist Jeannette Ehlers, who teamed up with Ms. Belle to create
the “Queen Mary” monument, said, “Ninety-eight percent of the statues in
Denmark are representing white males.”

The torch and the cane bill
<https://www.collectorsweekly.com/stories/104017-west-indian-cane-bill> held
in the statue’s hands symbolize the resistance strategies by those who were
colonized, the artists said in a statement. Her seated pose “recalls the
iconic 1967 photograph of Huey P. Newton, founder of the Black Panther
Party.” And the plinth on which her chair rests incorporates “coral cut
from the ocean by enslaved Africans gathered from ruins of the foundations
of historic buildings on St. Croix.”

Henrik Holm, senior research curator at Denmark’s National Gallery of Art,
said in a statement: “It takes a statue like this to make forgetting less
easy. It takes a monument like this to fight against the silence, neglect,
repression and hatred.” He added: “Never before has a sculpture like this
been erected on Danish soil. Now, Denmark is offered a sculpture that
addresses the past. But it is also an artwork for the future.”

The preferred self-image of this country of 5.5 million is that of a nation
at the forefront of democratization and a savior of Jews during World War
II. And even though the Vikings raped and pillaged their way around the
shores of Britain and Ireland, the Viking Age is generally a source of
national pride and amusement in Denmark.

Over the centuries, Danes have not undergone a national reckoning about the
thousands of Africans forced onto Danish ships to work the plantations in
Danish colonies in the Caribbean, historians say. “It may have to do with
the narrative of Denmark as a colonial power saying, ‘We weren’t as bad as
others,’ ” Professor Brimnes said. “But we were just as bad as the others.
I can’t identify a particular, humane Danish colonialism.”

In a speech last year, the Danish prime minister, Lars Lokke Rasmussen,
expressed regret for his country’s part in the slave trade — but he stopped
short of an apology.

[Photo by Nikolaj Recke: The two artists, Jeannette Ehlers, left, and La
Vaugh Belle, were inspired by Mary Thomas, who with two other female
leaders known as “Queens” unleashed an uprising in 1878 on St. Croix.]

For full story, see https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/31/world/europe/denmark-
statue-black-woman.html
*ivetteromero <http://repeatingislands.com/author/ivetteromero/>* | April
1, 2018 at 10:08 am | Tags: Danish colonial history
<http://repeatingislands.com/tag/danish-colonial-history/>, Denmark
<http://repeatingislands.com/tag/denmark/>, Jeannette Ehlers
<http://repeatingislands.com/tag/jeannette-ehlers/>, La Vaughn Belle
<http://repeatingislands.com/tag/la-vaughn-belle/>, Mary Thomas
<http://repeatingislands.com/tag/mary-thomas/>, St. Croix
<http://repeatingislands.com/tag/st-croix/>, U. S. Virgin Islands
<http://repeatingislands.com/tag/u-s-virgin-islands/> | Categories: Art
<http://repeatingislands.com/category/art/> | URL: https://wp.me/psnTa-zJV

Comment
<http://repeatingislands.com/2018/04/01/denmark-gets-first-public-statue-of-a-caribbean-black-woman-a-rebel-queen/#respond>
   See all comments
<http://repeatingislands.com/2018/04/01/denmark-gets-first-public-statue-of-a-caribbean-black-woman-a-rebel-queen/#comments>

Unsubscribe
<https://subscribe.wordpress.com/?key=b8c5a2154499dab58a405ce88709a6f7&email=lima%40geneseo.edu&b=LaqV%25HzKkRnlyEvAhCqG0hh.nOxKfqimvYpRr%25d3I%3D16chNvCo_>
to no longer receive posts from Repeating Islands.
Change your email settings at Manage Subscriptions
<https://subscribe.wordpress.com/?key=b8c5a2154499dab58a405ce88709a6f7&email=lima%40geneseo.edu>.


*Trouble clicking?* Copy and paste this URL into your browser:
http://repeatingislands.com/2018/04/01/denmark-gets-first-
public-statue-of-a-caribbean-black-woman-a-rebel-queen/
Thanks for flying with WordPress.com <https://wordpress.com>
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://mail.geneseo.edu/pipermail/blackstudies-l/attachments/20180401/b17b2f3d/attachment-0001.html>


More information about the Blackstudies-l mailing list