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Dublin: 4°C Friday 14 May 2021

What Lilian did next: French star Thuram tries his hand as a curator

Former French footballer Lilian Thuram is the curator of a much-anticipated Parisian exhibition titled “Human Zoos: The Invention of the Savage.”

Image: Remy de la Mauviniere/AP/Press Association Images

WORLD CUP WINNER Lilian Thuram has found a novel way to keep busy now that he’s retired from football — he’s curating a museum exhibition which showcases colonial freak shows.

Thuram, who was born in Guadeloupe, is the driving force behind an installation at Paris’s Quai Branly which explores how villagers from Africa and the Americas were transported and put on public display to feed colonists’ curiosity about “the other.”

The much-anticipated exhibition, titled Human Zoos: The Invention of the Savage, is part of the star’s work against racism since hanging up his boots three season ago.

Featured among the display are posters and photographs of chained tribal dancers performing for European audiences and crude “scientific” instruments used to highlight racial differences.

“You have to have the courage to say that each of us has prejudices, and these prejudices have a history,” Thuram told the Associated Press.

Many of the subjects of this colonial cruelty remain nameless and forgotten to history.

But some have been identified, including the great-grandparents of Thuram’s 1998 World Cup team-mate Christian Karembeu, shipped to Paris from the French Pacific territory of New Caledonia and exhibited as “cannibals.”

It’s a delicate undertaking for a museum: exhibiting offensive images without glorifying them, urging visitors to look closer and be repulsed.

But scientific curator Nanette Jacomijn Snoep said the exhibit isn’t about blaming viewers of the past for their curiosity.

For the visitors of this era, it was a way … to see what was happening elsewhere in the world. Except that visitors weren’t totally aware that was a spectacle, that it was a fabricated difference.

– Additional reporting by AP

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Niall Kelly

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