Custom Search 1

Denmark's ‘first public statue of a black woman' unveiled

MONUMENT: The "I am Queen Mary" statue is 23ft tall (Image: La Vaughn Belle)

TWO ARTISTS have created Denmark’s “first public monument to a black woman”.

The sculpture, which is called “I am Queen Mary”, depicts a black woman who led a revolt against Danish rule in the Caribbean in 1878.

The impressive sculpture is the first collaborative sculpture that memorialises Denmark’s colonial impact in the Caribbean and those who fought against it.

The statue was created by two female artists, Jeannette Ehlers and La Vaughn Belle.

Belle, who is from the Virgin Islands, said: "I Am Queen Mary represents a bridge between the two countries. It’s a hybrid of our bodies, nations and narratives. It extends the conversation beyond the centennial year and gets people to really question what is their relationship to this history. 

“Who we are as a society is largely about who we remember ourselves to be. This project is about challenging Denmark’s collective memory and changing it."

Mary Thomas, one of three women who led the 1978 “Fireburn” uprising, reportedly the largest labour revolt in Danish colonial history, is the inspiration behind the “I am Queen Mary” monument.

“Queen Mary” sits on a chair, with a torch in one hand and a tool used to cut sugar cane in the other hand.

Ehlers, who is Danish, said: “What’s unique about this sculpture is not only its size and thematics but that it was not commissioned. It is we, two artists, who are pushing into the public space with our artwork. A space in which 98% of the statues in Denmark are representing white males. So like the Queens of the Fireburn took action and fought against the oppressive colonial system, we are confronting present day’s racism and Eurocentrism by claiming a space for our narratives.”

The unveiling of the statue, which took place on March 31 at the Danish West Indian Warehouse in Copenhagen, was timed to coincide with the end of the centennial year commemorating the anniversary of Denmark’s sale of the Virgin Islands to the United States.

The project aims to challenge Denmark’s role in slavery and its commemoration of its colonial past.

Read every story in our hardcopy newspaper for free by downloading the app.

Facebook Comments