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Anne Thuot

Lydia Richardson

Anne Thuot2015

Nuit Blanche Bruxelles / 01.10.2016 © Sara Sampelayo

Lydia Richardson is a character created in 2015 by artist Anne Thuot to offer a reflection on the privileges and frontiers inherent to the European identity. Dressed in a Hermès skirt suit, carrying a Louis Vuitton bag and wearing a blond wig, this colourful character appears in rather unexpected places.

In 2016, The character Lydia Richardson was transformed into a metaphor for Europe: body puffy from alcohol and too much fine food, wearing a dress in the colours of the European flag, she lay slumped on an inflatable mattress. Around her, thirty-odd participants from the welcome-centres for asylum seekers in Brussels vainly tried to heave the dying body to its feet.

Lydia Richardson Welcomes You  was presented at Brussels' Nuit Blanche 2016. Lydia Richardson's story guided the audience through the character's life and privileges, via various episodes and formats. The piece is played in the luxurious salons of Concert Noble, a palace built with colonial riches, acting as a link between the country's colonial past and present efforts to welcome refugees to Belgium. It allowed for interaction with refugees (participants encountered during workshops in refugee welcome-centres), in the form of a "slow-motion ballroom dance".

Retrieve, the latest installement, is a look at the African objects we have in our homes (whether inherited, looted directly from the continent, bought from an antique shop, from a flea market or even from a discount shop selling Chinese copies). How do we tell the story of our European colonial heritage via these personal objects - some passed down through generations? What about giving them some context, restoring their foreign origin to which we have been blind? What if Lydia Richardson became a public object for all, a sort of voodoo fetish to which we can entrust all the stories of our personal artefacts?