In the footsteps of slavery. Land artist Saype has just achieved the 10th step of his worldwide “Beyond Walls” project. After a year disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic that has upset the daily life of people around the world, especially jeopardizing art and culture, the artist is proud of completing this anniversary milestone.
After almost two years, three continents have been visited, 37 pairs of hands painted and 77’300 square meters sprayed with biodegradable paint developed by the artist.
Dedicated to friendship and togetherness, each of the ten step carries a universal message. With a seemingly common visual, every step nevertheless carries a peculiar symbolism that stems form the culture and history of each location. Moreover, although anonymous, the hands painted on the ground also highlight the individual lives and drastically different realities that the artist hopes to unite.
Here in Benin, the artist has chosen two emblematic locations tragically marked by slavery. First in Ouidah, village of Abouta, one of the main slave trade hub in Africa. This was the starting point of a long one-way crossing for millions of Africans across the Atlantic. Secondly, the village on stilts of Ganvié where populations fleeing the slave trade raids found shelter. The giant hands of “Beyond Walls” link these two places, as if those who avoided slavery strived to hold back those who would have left never to come back.
This step of the project will take place in two phases and should soon be completed with a new destination allowing the project to reach a new continent, following the path of those who left never to come back.
Guillaume Legros alias Saype (contraction of Say Peace) is a French-Swiss artist who creates monumental frescoes on grass and on the ground. He is the inventor of an eco-responsible paint composed mainly of chalk and charcoal. He is renowned as the pioneer of an artistic movement bridging street art and landart. His approach and his innovative technique earned him the nomination in 2019, by the famous magazine Forbes, as one of the thirty most influential artists under the age of thirty. His poetic and ephemeral works travel around the world to impact minds respecting nature.
The “Beyond Walls” project
In an increasingly polarised world, the artist chooses symbolically, to paint the largest human chain in the world, inviting us to embrace kindness and togetherness, this is the “Beyond Walls” project. Pairs of hands, which intertwine and travel from town to town, and form a giant chain painted on the ground symbolising union, mutual aid, and common effort beyond walls.
Photo credit: Valentin Flauraud for Saype