Killing Us Softly, 2020
Triptych about the Chlordecone tragedy affecting the French West Indies based on the “reviewed” Japanese pictorial maxim of the three wise monkeys “see evil, hear evil, speak evil”. It symbolises how the French Government pressurised by a minority of influent large planters called the “Bekes” behaved towards the French Caribbean population over more than 30 years. Except in this case, ignoring a mass contamination by pesticide lead to heavy consequences affecting us today and centuries to come.
The pesticide officially declared toxic in 1972 and banned in the US in 1976 following an environmental crisis in Hopewell (Virginia), continued to be legal under the French government for use on the Caribbean islands until 1993. Multiple health studies of adults in Martinique and Guadeloupe, shows that 95% have chlordecone in their blood while they rank number one and two in the world for rates of prostate cancer (Age-standardised rate per 100,000).
Chlordecone is a persistent and long lasting toxin remaining in the soil for up to 600 years with a range of harmful effects on humans including cancer, infertility and premature births. Indeed the food chain is impacted due to the contaminated water passing through the soil. Rivers, sea shores, fish, cattle and the whole ecosystem is generally contaminated.
With the use of golden blood, it is suggested that while our people are bleeding and dying, all the Bekes and the French Government see is gold. The real poison being greed, profit by any means necessary without concerns about the collateral damage on your own turf.
– Step in Martinique, Old Street Records (London, 7th Nov 2019)
– Depiction of Living, The Art Pavillon (London, 24th-28th Jan 2020)
Photography and Dataviz by Mister Geez, London based visual story teller from Martinique
Male model is Ralph Richer from the Ziloka French Caribbean traditional music group based in London, UK
Three data visualisations have been created alongside the photographic portraits with different themes:
Panel 1 (See Evil) is Who? The data layer shows the international dimension of the tragedy, especially which countries and organisations were involved from the 60s to this day
Central Panel 2 (Speak Evil) is What? The data layer shows various facts about the crisis, with various action categories that affected the population such as Danger, Warning, Studies and Safety
Panel 3 (Hear Evil) is When? The data layer shows a symbolic timeline with the distribution of various events or actions affecting the population considered dangerous, safe or warnings. As well as scientific studies, community petitions, crowdfunding, legal and lobbying actions
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 (report expected December 4th)
translated and read in English & various languages by neural network Amazon Polly cloud service