I, Melchior 1

In his series of self-portraits entitled I, Melchior I, Lamyne M. adopts the persona of the senior king among the Magi, who gathered as foreign visitors at the cradle of Jesus, according to the New Testament Bible. The artist poses in front of paintings of French kings and queens enacting key moments in French history. These paintings are treasures of the sacred Basilica of Saint-Denis, where many of France’s royals are entombed. Today, Saint-Denis, which abuts Paris, is regarded as the most diverse city in Europe, with immigrants from all over the world. Currently, Saint-Denis is bidding to be designated the next European Cultural Capital (an initiative for which Lamyne M., a resident, is Artistic Director). In these portraits, Lamyne M., a French citizen of foreign origin, steps into French history as a contemporary actor, representing today’s multiethnic France. He merges the layers of past and present, self and other, nation and individual, citizen and foreigner. Like the Black Magi, he is intrinsic to the unfolding narrative, he is there at the origin.