“The revolution will be the flowering of humanity as love is the flowering of the heart” Louise Michel, revolutionary, activist, and significant figure of the Paris Commune.
Montmartre, Belleville, and all those poor neighborhoods in the 11th, 18th, 19th and 20th arrondissements all shake with the memory of the Paris Commune as we mark the 150th anniversary this spring of the short-lived self-governance ended by a “Bloody Week.”
To mark those events and the thousands killed when the rich fled, we share with you new public works from artists of the TWE Crew in collaboration with the Black Lines movement – and in association with Art Azoi in the heart of the 20th arrondissement of Paris. A combination of street art, graffiti, mural art, and illustration influences all join forces in black and the bloody red that stood as their flag. Figures depicted may be contemporary or of the period, but their universal plight appears devastatingly on-point.
“Working men’s Paris, with its Commune, will be forever celebrated as the glorious harbinger of a new society. Its martyrs are enshrined in the great heart of the working class,” said Karl Marx. Professor John Merriman speaks in his book “Massacre” of that eclectic revolutionary government that held power in Paris across eight weeks between 18 March and 28 May 1871 and says that the crushing of the poor who were unable to escape the city sadly anticipated the horror shows that would follow in the 20th Century.
In other words, they were killed because they were too poor to get out.
Conversely, in many ways, the Commune created a template as well for social and political justice movements that would come – proposing in their city council such things as economic laws, workers rights, separation of church and state, abolishing the death penalty and mandatory conscription, and labor’s self-management. From these brutal times and events, you may wish to salvage many of those radical ideas – the only spoils of victory, if you will.
But even today, a century and a half later, conversations about how to remember the Commune are divisive.
“You can summarise the Commune in one word: violence,” says Rudolph Granier, a member of the centre-right Les Républicains (LR) on the city council, according to an article by Hugh Schofield of the BBC News last month.
“It was a populist movement. And in the current state of France and the world – when in Paris we have the yellow vests and in Washington they’re storming the Capitol – I do not think we should be celebrating people who burned down our city hall.”
Participating artists are @lasktwecrew, @kwim__t.w.e, @kracotwecrew and @al_zoyer of the @blacklinescommunity