Six months after his nomination for the Marcel Duchamp prize and his installation entitled Vaincre le virus, Barthélémy Toguo is presenting a series of works produced over the summer. The title of the exhibition, Strange Fruit is, of course, an evocation of the famous song by Billie Holiday:
Southern trees bear strange fruit
Blood on the leaves and blood on the root
Black bodies swinging in the southern breeze
Strange fruit hanging from poplar trees
As the song unfolds, the Strange Fruit is revealed to be people hanging from tree branches, the bodies of blacks lynched in the segregationist states of the southern United States. Now, in the early years of the 21st Century, Barthélémy Toguo is using his rich and perceptive universe to denounce the rise in racist violence around the world. Bronze crows, perched on branches from whence his drawings hang, and dogs with sharp teeth await the visitor. At the heart of the installation, a bust of Ida B. Wells (1862-1931) will serve as a reminder of the difficult struggle against segregation and lynching led by this Afro-American journalist, little known in Europe, and whose book, Southern Horrors, was only translated into French and published in Geneva in 2016.
Press release courtesy Galerie Lelong & Co. Paris.