Memorial to the Abolition of Slavery
A Memorial s historic destiny is to preserve the memory of the past and provide conditions for new responses. As the premier slave trading port in France (46% of all 4000 French Slave Trading Expeditions), Nantes has decided to uncover, unearth and confront its own difficult past. This Memorial a metaphorical evocation of the struggle for the abolition of slavery, above all historic, but which still continues into the present- transforms 350 meters of Loire riverfront, and adapts a preexisting underground residual space, product of the construction of the Loire embankments and port during the XVIII, XIX, and XX Centuries, which demanded the construction of a complex protection against the Loires daily tides. This Working Memorial (8500m2) sheds light over pasts and presents by providing space and means for remembering slavery and the slave trade; commemorating the abolitionist struggle; celebrating the historic act of abolition; and for bringing the visitor closer to the continuing struggle against present-day forms of slavery. As an ethico/political, urban, artistic, landscape and architectural project, this new Public Space hopes to become an agent and catalyst for action, activism and engagement.
Jean Marc Ayrault (former Maire/current French Prime Minister): By raising the memorial on the banks of the Loire, in the heart of the city, from where many slave trade expeditions departed, and giving it the shape of a monumental artistic and urban gesture, we recall that the struggle for freedom and dignity of every human being is a fundamental cause that engages our idea of society. This memorial, which is unique in its scale in Europe, is a message from all the people in Nantes . . . and hopes to become a living place for collective commitment to the memory of the past and to continue our struggle for recognition and promotion of human rights."