Proposal to allow artists to legally graffiti Leopold II statue

Proposal to allow artists to legally graffiti Leopold II statue
Credit: Belga

Different artists should be able to create a new anti-colonial statement on the equestrian statue of Leopold II on the Place du Trône in Brussels every six months, according to city councillor Bruno De Lille.

By "setting artists loose" on the statue pending a definitive decision on what to do with it, the debate will be kept alive, but "the justified anger can be channelled in a constructive way," De Lille told Bruzz.

The equestrian statue, in particular, has been defaced several times, as a lot of voices are in favour of removing it. However, as long as there is no clarity, De Lille wants it to be available to artists.

Additionally, he proposed to name new streets after people who are important in the fight against colonisation. It is also high time to make the Lumumba square bigger, he said, and to create a real homage to the murdered ex-Prime Minister of Congo.

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In the same municipality council, the French-speaking liberal MR party put forward a motion to preserve the colonial statues, as the important events of our past, for better or worse, are part of our identity, the party said.

However, they do want to adapt the educational signs accompanying the works, to "reflect the complexity and the possible grandeur and possible misdeeds of the characters," they said.

The colonial statues continue to make headlines in Belgium, as several have been defaced or damaged throughout the country in recent weeks.

Brussels Secretary of State Pascal Smet said he wanted to set up a working group, and would be willing to remove the statue if that was the outcome of the discussions.

Earlier on Monday, Brussels Minister Bernard Clerfayt proposed to keep the Leopold II statue at Place du Trône, but to erect a monument to commemorate the victims of the colonisation next to the statue of Leopold II. "Removing symbols from history will not make people smarter,” he said.

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times

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