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, according to the New Testament Bible, gathered as foreign visitors at the cradle of Jesus Christ. Lamyne M. poses himself as Melchior 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, which is where many of France’s royals are entombed. Today, Saint-Denis, which abuts Paris, is 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 that Lamyne M., a resident, is deeply engaged in). 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.