Softly is merging the “reviewed” Japanese pictorial maxim of the three wise monkeys with the ongoing tragedy of the Chlordecone contamination in the French West Indies. This triptych speaks volumes about the decades-long neglect and abuse inflicted by the French government and the influential planters on the local population. The powerful symbolism of the three monkeys, covering their eyes, ears, and mouth, highlights the ways in which the authorities turned a blind eye, deaf ears, and silenced voices to the devastating effects of the pesticide on the people and the environment. As a result, the consequences of the contamination are felt not only today but also for generations to come, as the toxin persists in the soil for up to 600 years and causes a range of harmful effects on human health, including cancer, infertility, and premature births.
The artist draws attention to the alarming fact that while the people of Martinique and Guadeloupe suffer the highest rates of prostate cancer in the world, with 95% of adults having chlordecone in their blood, the French government and the planters continue to prioritize profits over people. The use of golden blood, a striking visual element in the triptych, underscores the greed and callousness of those who have put their own interests above the well-being of the community. Through this powerful artwork, the artist aims to raise awareness of the Chlordecone tragedy and to demand accountability and justice for the victims and their families.
Photography and Data visuals by Mister Geez, London based visual artist from Martinique
Male model is Ralph Richer from the Ziloka French Caribbean traditional music group based in London, UK
– Step in Martinique, Old Street Records (London, 7th Nov 2019)
– Depiction of Living, The Art Pavillon (London, 24th-28th Jan 2020)
Three data visualisations have been created alongside the photographic portraits with different themes:
Panel 1 (See Evil) is Who?
This data layer reveals the international scope of the tragedy and sheds light on the countries and organizations that have been involved since the 1960s up to the present day.
Central Panel 2 (Speak Evil) is What?
This data layer provides a wealth of information about the crisis, including different categories of action that have impacted the population, such as Danger, Warning, Studies, and Safety.
Panel 3 (Hear Evil) is When?
This data layer features a symbolic timeline that maps out the distribution of different events and actions related to the crisis, ranging from dangerous to safe to warning. Alongside these events, the timeline also includes scientific studies, community petitions, crowdfunding campaigns, legal actions, and lobbying efforts, among other categories.
Speech linked to QR code on central Panel 2 (Speak Evil) is “My island is poisoned”
by Ralph Richer (portrait model) and music from the Ziloka French Caribbean traditional music group based in London, UK
Speeches linked to QR codes on Panel 1 (See Evil) and Panel 3 (Hear Evil)
are from M. Malcom Ferdinand (environmental engineer, doctor of political philosophy and CNRS researcher)
during the French Parlementary Commission of Enquiry about Chlordecone in September 2019.
Translated and read in English & various languages by neural network Amazon Polly cloud service.