“C’est encore loin.!?” is the name of this beautiful sculpture by Jacky Omer Poulier placed last May in Bussy-Saint-Georges in France. This town located not far from the Eurodisneyland Park participated for the first time in the commemoration of the abolition of slavery, Friday, May 10. The 3.50 high stainless steel work symbolizes the fight against slavery. The sculptor was at the 10th edition of the Pool Art Fair Guadeloupe which was held from June 14 to 16 and he agreed to tell us about this “artistic adventure” in Europe.
A year ago, the city of Bussy-Saint-Georges located in the Department of Seine et Marne in France inaugurated Boulevard Victor Schoelcher (1804-1893), the French abolitionist who fought to end slavery in the French colonies in the 19th century. The municipality showed its intention to put in the city a work on the theme of the abolition of slavery. So, a call was launched for several sculptors. The “Ka Fraternité” association that brings together natives of the West Indies – such as the famous Creole teacher, Tony Mango – and chaired by Rony Lengrai, had the responsability of getting in touch with sculptors from the French overseas territories. Jacky Poulier, the famous Guadeloupean sculptor who has already created several statues of illustrious people from the island (Joseph Ignace, Solitude, Louis Delgrès, Gerty Archimède, Marcel Lollia “Vélo” etc.) was chosen by the jury to realize his work called “C’est encore loin.!?” (It’s still far away.!?).
We met the artist at the 10th Pool Art Fair Guadeloupe, the international artists’ fair, which took place from June 14 to 16 in Pointe-à-Pitre. In his stand, with the works that he presented to the visitors, there was a picture of this monumental work that caught our attention. Jacky Poulier has agreed to tell us about this “artistic adventure”.
3.50 metres high and 1.20 metre wide in stainless steel
“I was contacted in November 2018 when I was in Paris. I asked that the project booklet be sent to me to study it and make a proposal before December 10 which was the deadline. A jury had to look at the different projects and, on December 26, 2018, the participants were to be informed of the results. I received no answer. On January 26, 2019, the municipality of Bussy-Saint-Georges phoned me to tell me that my project had been chosen”, he told. From that moment began for the sculptor a real race against the clock since the work was to be delivered in less than two months, ie on March 15, to be inaugurated on May 10. When he explained his constraints to the cultural service of the town hall of Bussy-Saint-Georges, the artist got additional time to carry out this project.
In April, the work protected in a box went on board Air-France Cargo at the Pôle Caraïbe airport in Guadeloupe in the direction of Orly airport in the Paris region then the city of Bussy-Saint-Georges. From April 26 to May 6 (four days before the inauguration), Jacky Poulier stayed in this city to fix the 3.50-metre-high and the 1.20-metre wide stainless steel sculpture at the corner of Schoelcher Boulevard and General de Gaulle Avenue, a busy road.
The active role of slaves
“There are two characters. The one at the bottom who is a slave is supporting the one at the top who is an entity even if it has a human form. This can be for example a maroon slave, a slave who bought his freedom or a righteous man who has come to stop this ignominy. He is scanning the horizon hence the words “C’est encore loin.!?” pronounced by the slave who is supporting him. Everyone who will see the work will choose the punctuation to put: a full stop, an exclamation mark or a question mark. The presence of this slave shows that the slaves also participated in this fight against slavery and were not passive”, explained the sculptor.
On May 10 – date of national commemoration of the abolition of slavery in France – Yann Dubosc the mayor of Bussy-Saint-Georges, cut the ribbon to inaugurate the statue and then about 300 people met at the municipal multimedia library where were made the various speeches for the occasion. Jacky Omer Poulier explained to the audience the symbolism of his work. As for the pupils in fourth grade class from George Sand Primary School, they read a poem and an extract from Victor Schoelcher’s decree of abolition. “This is the first time that one of my works is placed outside Guadeloupe and I have very good memories of this artistic adventure”, he said.