Skip to contentSkip to navigation
Become a Member
Explore today's schedule
Visit MMFA for free by becoming a Member
Learn more
September 23, 2021

A Powerful Symbolic Artwork by Stanley Février

Stanley Février (born in 1976), Yes, We Love You, 2020, reinforced Hydrocal cement. MMFA, purchase, gift of An-Lap Vo-Dignard and Jennifer Nguyen. Photo Jean-Guy Turgeon

Exhibited from September 11, 2021 to February 13, 2022 as part of the exhibition “How long does it take for one voice to reach another?”, Yes, We Love You is the first work by Stanley Février to enter the Museum’s collection, and we are grateful to An-Lap Vo-Dignard and Jennifer Nguyen for their generous and thoughtful donation.

Iris Amizlev. Photo MMFA, Christine Guest

Iris Amizlev

Curator – Community Engagement and Projects

Haitian-born multidisciplinary artist Stanley Février is the 2020 recipient of the prestigious MNBAQ Contemporary Art Award, with which he was honoured for his steadfast commitment to exposing the violence and social issues plaguing our society. A graduate in visual and media arts, his recent artistic and conceptual concerns are based on identity, institutional criticism and the inequalities generated by the Establishment.

We immediately singled out this powerful symbolic artwork that touched us to our core, to raise awareness and promote dialogue about racism and discrimination.
- An-Lap Vo-Dignard and Jennifer Nguyen

Indifference is not an option when confronted with the cast of Stanley Février’s body lying face-down on the ground, replicating the infamous position in which George Floyd died. Although we don’t see the knee on Février’s neck, we know it is there; its presence is triggered by our collective memory of Floyd’s atrocious murder by a white police officer in Minneapolis on May 25, 2020, which was witnessed on screens worldwide.

Yes, We Love You crystallizes that moment, but it also transcends time. Its role in history will be to commemorate the victims of racial injustice and police brutality as well as marginalized people who lack the capital power to fight back. For some, Février’s work evokes painful memories of the inequality, oppression and aggression they have experienced in their daily lives. Others, who are sheltered by the cloak of the colour of their skin and protected from such prejudice, are horrified by the viciousness that perpetrates this vulnerable pose.

Performance by Février held in Montreal North on June 21, 2020. Photo Mike Patten

Performance by Février held in Montreal North on June 21, 2020. Photo Mike Patten

Performance by Février held in Montreal North on June 21, 2020. Photo Mike Patten

Performance by Février held in Montreal North on June 21, 2020. Photo Mike Patten

Performance by Février held in Montreal North on June 21, 2020. Photo Mike Patten

Performance by Février held in Montreal North on June 21, 2020. Photo Mike Patten

The sculpture is also the material vestige of a performance by Février held in Montreal North on June 21, 2020. In his response to local politicians demanding justice for Floyd while denying the existence of systemic racism in Quebec, the artist’s aim was twofold: to re-enact Floyd’s death using his own body; and to present the dramatization to the public in a neighbourhood afflicted by high incidences of violence, racial profiling and unemployment. In a communal call to action to demand justice and accountability, Février led a procession to a police station, in which participants carried placards bearing the names of Black persons killed by police since 1979.

For Février, art is a tool for social transformation – an initial career as a social worker informs his practice. In his pursuit of righteousness and equality for marginalized communities, he probes the physical and psychological suffering instigated by violence in the modern world as he revisits slavery, mass shootings and other crises.

Yes, We Love You commands attention in its embodiment of the devastation caused by souls poisoned by loathing. It transforms the space around it into a sacred place, where the viewer can contemplate, acknowledge and enter into communion with the affront. The white coating on Février’s skin is embedded with a dual meaning: the suffering to which brown and black bodies are subjugated by white dominance; and the purity the colour symbolizes. Its use transposes Février’s Black identity, confounding interpretation and further compounding the work’s potency.

In light of the Museum’s humanist vision and anti-racism stance, and its core values of acceptance, solidarity and inclusion, this sculpture is a particularly meaningful addition to its collection.

Add a touch of culture to your inbox
Subscribe to the Museum newsletter

Bourgie Hall Newsletter sign up

This website uses cookies in order to optimize your browsing experience and for promotional purposes. To learn more, please see our policy on the protection of personal Iinformation