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Rivers and oceans: Navigating pictorial legacies of enslavement in New Orleans and Bristol

Beauchamp-Byrd, Mora; Sobers, Shawn


Mora Beauchamp-Byrd

Shawn Sobers
Professor of Cultural Interdisciplinary Practice


This two-part article is a comparative analysis of two late twentieth-century works of art: John T. Scott’s Ocean Song (1990), an abstract, large-scale public art sculpture in New Orleans, Louisiana in the US, and Sold Down the River (1999), a major, self-portrait-centered painting by the Bristol, UK-based artist Tony Forbes. As outlined in both sections, contemporary artists have produced works that ensure a continuing civic dialogue about, and commemoration of, site-specific histories of enslavement. In examining and placing these two works in their social, political and cultural contexts, the article highlights the role that artists may play in offering pictorial counter-narratives that question “official,” often tourist-driven, narratives that tend to romanticize and/or mollify colonial and/or imperial initiatives, including enslavement and other legacies marked by trauma.


Beauchamp-Byrd, M., & Sobers, S. (2019). Rivers and oceans: Navigating pictorial legacies of enslavement in New Orleans and Bristol.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Dec 18, 2018
Online Publication Date Feb 25, 2019
Publication Date Feb 28, 2019
Deposit Date Feb 7, 2019
Journal Journal of Global Slavery
Electronic ISSN 2405-836X
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 4
Issue 1
Pages 69-98
Keywords slavery, slave trade, art, bristol, tony forbes, edward colston, decolonising, new orleans
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