Slam Poets Will Rap at The Louvre

Angela Doland, AP, Nov. 8, 2006

With Toni Morrison as guest curator this month, the museum is dreaming up new ways to look at art.

The Nobel laureate has helped the Louvre conceive a series of lectures, readings, films, concerts, debates and slam poetry that will continue through Nov. 29. All center on her theme, “The Foreigner’s Home,” touching on national identity, exile and the idea of belonging.

The slam artists come in Friday night, when the Louvre is open late, and Morrison will also visit them in one of the troubled suburbs that was hit by riots a year ago. The riots exposed long-simmering anger about discrimination and alienation among French teenagers of immigrant origin, many of them of Muslim North African and African descent.

The “Beloved” author followed news of the riots as she was preparing the conference series. The French situation got her thinking of the African-American experience, and how teenagers in France would put their feelings of exclusion to use in art.

In the United States, blacks “created within that country a powerful culture, specifically of themselves, that was magnificently universal,” the 75-year-old author told reporters Wednesday. “What you think you know about U.S. culture . . . much of it, its roots are from African-Americans. We made modernity in that country.

“The point is that you can use your disadvantages,” Morrison said. “Out of disadvantages and energy comes a new thing that has never been seen before.”

Inviting Morrison to the museum was part of Louvre Director Henri Loyrette’s outreach to the United States. This year, the museum mounted an exhibit of New World painters and loaned treasures to Atlanta’s High Museum of Art for an ambitious three-year partnership.

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