Friday, July 15, 2011

The Musée du Louvre-- centered by I.M. Pei's massive, defiant ornament of skeletal geometry, dropped right in the middle of a classical plaza with statues of French conquerors, instead of gargoyles, staring down at you. Their robes are the baroque conceit of a much older architect, billowing yet contained in the exacting hands of the colonizers. A Mercedes construction vehicle, adorned with industrial hoses, emits a laborious noise under status of Richeliu, Montaigne, Houdon, Duperac. The vehicle appears to be removing sewage from a trap door beneath their feet. Bare-breasted, anonymous female statues are perched two tiers above the Great Men. They look like the statue of liberty model, an African woman, according to Lewis D. Gordon. A drab, once-white Ferris Wheel circulates at the edge of the plaza.

The Louvre leaves no doubt as to the relationship between aesthetic waste and grandeur and political dominion. White Americans despise the French for the simple reason that, even today, the French empire is, in a couple of ways, the most powerful in the world, even as its colonies have been independent for years. With a much more vast and "high" style than the American empire, it fascinates, transfixes, and bewitches the entire world with its opulent ecstasy; its sinister brutality is inseparable from its ability to create a feeling of ambient awe which hegemonizes and fixes the concept of greatness. What are the thoughts of those who are very nearly the only Black people in the Louvre, the Afr0-French who work as security guards, as they stare, week after week, at the marble semblances of the potentate?