In the 18th century, Nantes became the most important slave-trading port in France. Ship-owners, bankers, industrialists, merchants, shipbuilders, sailors: everyone profited from this trade, making the city extremely wealthy. By inaugurating this memorial in 2012 – the only one of its kind in Europe – the city affirms its desire to “keep the memory of the past alive and let it be a warning for the future.” (K. Wodiczko and J. Bonder)
On a plant-covered walkway, 2,000 commemorative plaques remind the public of the slave ships that departed from Nantes as well as the major trading ports in Africa and America. A meditative promenade, marked with quotes on the subject of slavery from a variety of sources, runs alongside the Quai de Loire. Krzysztof Wodiczko received the Hiroshima Art Prize in 1998, which rewards an artist for his/her contribution to world peace every year. Architect and teacher, Julian Bonder, is renowned for his work mixing public space, memory, and mass trauma experienced by populations.
Discover also: an urban walking tour, Nantes and the traite négrière is composed of 11 informational panels which symbolically link it to the Memorial at the Château des ducs de Bretagne, by continuing along l’île Feydeau.
© Jean-Dominique Billaud / Nautilus