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 Loire’s 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."