Presse release

L'océan noir / The Black Ocean/
O Oceano Negro

A series by William, Adjété Wilson, Abomey/Bénin & Paris. France

The Black Ocean is a series of 18 tapestries, patchwork, appliqué and
embroidery, that narrates the history of the Gulf of Benin from the 15th
to the 21th century.

An epic and tragic saga of the bonds and struggles fuelled by slavery,
spread on three continents, by an artist born from a Togolese father
and a French mother.

William Wilson used for these tapestries a traditional craft developed in
the royal courts of Danxomé, located in the present Benin, in Africa.
Two years were required to complete this work that mixed artistic,
pedagogic and historical purposes. For over 20 years William Wilson
had gather informations on his own african family ; this personal quest
adds originals and sensitives insights that enlights the complexity of
this history.

Black men are the main subject of the project: powerful African kings, slave
dealers or captives carried away to the Caribbean islands and the American
continent, taking their culture and traditions along with them, maroons slaves
who escaped upon arrival or later, living hidden in the forest, the educated
elites of the Mina kingdom, royal hostages at the time of early colonization
taken to Europe then brought back to their country in Africa, Black
Americans united by Martin Luther King Jr under a peaceful banner or the
most active branch of the Black Panthers, Black musicians, Black
artists,Black freedom fighters, Black people. Each tapestry represents a
historical time or event. From the encounter of African people with
Portuguese sailors on the "Slave coast" to the triangular trade, the
colonisation or to the civil rights movements in the 1960's in the US, William
Wilson aims at retracing the links between the African continent and the
creation of the modern world.Fusing his artistic approach with a pedagogic
one, William Wilson provides in his text the personal and historical
background necessary to understand the full meaning and scope of the
The exhibition has already be shown In St Malo, Rouen, Paris, Nantes, Lyon, La Rochelle, Bordeaux, and in Israel, Suisse, Belgium, Italy, in the USA, in Africa: Bamako, Dakar, Cotonou, Lomé,  and is to travel all around the Atlantic ocean.


l'océan noir, le livre

2009  | Gallimard