i am queen mary | INAUGURATION

The unveiling of the sculpture occurred on Saturday, March 31 at 1pm. It was a very cold day in Copenhagen, yet hundreds braved the weather to welcome this new iconic sculpture into the cityscape.  The unveiling was preceded by a march organized by Black Lives Matter-Denmark who led hundreds on a walk from the former Christianshavn's prison where the Queens of the Fireburn were kept to the I Am Queen Mary statue. Here find some of the speeches for that day.

 

 Helle Stenum, PhD, migration researcher, filmmaker

Helle Stenum, PhD, migration researcher, filmmaker

Helle Stenum

Excerpt from her speech on March 31, 2018

"Queen Mary came across the Atlantic together with three other women and three men from the rebellion, and she was incarcerated in Christianshavns Women's Prison together with Mathilde McBean; Susanna Abraham, ’Bottom Belly’, and Axeline ’Agnes’ Solomon, who together with Rebecca Frederik were known as ’the black amazons’" 

 
 Henrik Holm, Senior Research  Curator of the Royal Cast Collection, Statens Museum Kunst, Photo courtesy of SMK

Henrik Holm, Senior Research  Curator of the Royal Cast Collection, Statens Museum Kunst, Photo courtesy of SMK

 
 Genevieve Whitaker, MCJ, MPM, JD, human rights activist  Photo credit: Angel Valentin

Genevieve Whitaker, MCJ, MPM, JD, human rights activist

Photo credit: Angel Valentin

Henrik holm

Excerpt from his speech on March 31, 2018

“I Am Queen Mary” is now placed in front of the West Indian Warehouse, next to the waterways that connect Denmark and the US Virgin Islands. It is a monument to what has been absent, neglected and repressed in the past. This monument has made it possible for me to tell you the story about Ryberg, the Warehouse and the sculptures inside it. This is all we need a monument to help us do."

 

 

Genevieve Whitaker

Excerpt from her speech on March 31, 2018

"Queen Mary now is positioned here as we witness, as a fixture, a symbol of triumph over evil, in front of space where the byproducts of slave labor from the Danish West Indies was once brought. Queen Mary sits on her throne, where she appears contemplative on the accomplishments of her rise up against the Danish empire, the Danish crown, on behalf of a people, she held as her people up against a system entrenched with the power to continue the legacy of slavery through the establishment of the Danish West Indies as a colony. 

WE CAN THEREFORE embody her spirit, and a Virgin Islander of the United States, and all others who know first-hand what is means to be defined as a colonial subject, as someone deemed not worthy of the full rights as a citizens, we must then DECLARE that I AM QUEEN MARY and steps towards deconstructing that reality!"

 
 Jeannette Ehlers, artist, Photo Credit: Casper Holmenlund Christensen

Jeannette Ehlers, artist, Photo Credit: Casper Holmenlund Christensen

 
 La Vaughn Belle, artist, Photo credit: David Berg

La Vaughn Belle, artist, Photo credit: David Berg

Jeannette Ehlers

Excerpt from her speech on March 31, 2018

"A bronze replica of Michelangelo’s sculpture “David” adorns the harbor in front of the building. “David” who represents the biblical hero who fought against Goliath and won, came to symbolize the defense of civil liberties within the western canon. The sculpture has become one of the most recognized works of Renaissance sculptures, a symbol of strength and youthful beauty. BUT he also represents the “white gaze” and European hegemony. 

Today I AM QUEEN MARY, is placed as a counterpoint to “David”, as well as a tribute sculpture to rebel forces in the former Danish colonies. The rebel Queen,  Mary Thomas, represents a true s-hero and reflects the power of resistance towards the dehumanization of her people, that has been taken place since the first black body was captured in Africa and deported to the new world."

 

La vaughn belle

Excerpt from her speech on March 31, 2018

"I Am Queen Mary has been an ancestral calling to remember. They called and we responded. Each in our different ways. My journey into this project took a turn when I was  sitting on the steps of my studio three years ago and I noticed some coral stones on the ground near the ruins of an outhouse. They were beautiful, but I wondered about why they had straight edges as if manipulated by someone’s hand. That is when I had a sudden remembrance of the history of these stones. I recalled how the enslaved Africans would be sent into the ocean during the low tide to cut them out of the reefs. The corals were then used to form the foundations of many of the colonial era buildings in our towns. However their labor was invisible. We often look upon this buildings as Danish, because of the Danish bricks imported from Flensburg that are the most visible. But these structures are not Danish alone and this history is not Danish alone. These coral stones in the base of I Am Queen Mary made a journey similar to those were taken from the African continent to get here- in ships, over the course of months and across the Atlantic. These stones are their testimony."