Contemporary artist, Romuald Hazoumè, to give away butterflies from six of his compositions
Contemporary African artist Romuad Hazoumè and Manchester Museum are set to encourage political engagement on Election Day by giving away butterflies from six of his compositions to celebrate the power of voters to topple or install politicians through the force of democracy.
Dance of the Butterflies is Hazoumè’s striking new artwork, which features swarms of multi-coloured ‘butterflies’ which have taken over Manchester Museum’s Living Worlds Gallery. The work represents a very African take on politics, exploration and the butterfly effect, with hundreds of butterflies arranged in such a manner as to symbolize popular images of politicians – sharks, wolves or birds of prey. The butterflies are made from off-cuts of vibrant African wax-print fabrics from the artist’s home country of Benin.
In an effort to encourage people to exercise their right to vote Hazoumè has asked the Museum to give away the butterflies from six of the pieces in the exhibition. Anybody of voting age can become a butterfly activist by attending at Manchester Museum on Election Day between 11am and 4pm and pledging to vote as well as to encourage one other person, through the gift of a butterfly, to do something to engage with politics, whether voting, campaigning, debating or something else political. The Museum and Hazoumè have asked that people then let them know what they will do and post about the gift on social media using the hashtag #DanceoftheButterflies.
Nick Merriman, director of Manchester Museum, said ‘Romuald Hazoumè’s work is intensely engaged with the politics of the modern world. He sees each of us as ‘butterfly activists’ who can make or break politicians and it’s wonderful that he is prepared to give away these pieces to remind us of our power.’
Hazoumè’s Dance of the Butterflies captivates not only because of the beauty of the individually crafted butterflies, but also because it suggests a more complex political and social message. The individual butterflies come together in groups to suggest resemblances to other natural forms such as a shark, a dove, a vulture or a crocodile. For Hazoumè, these animal forms combine to mimic characteristic political ‘types’ in Africa and elsewhere in the world, those larger-than-life characters who represent the wishes of the multitudes who follow them and whose actions may have far-reaching consequences for all.
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Dance of the Butterflies image by Romuald Hazoume 2015 photo Michael Pollard