Paris’ famous Louvre Museum was forever transformed in Summer 2018 when it was spectacularly appropriated by megastar power couple Beyoncé and Jay-Z, by way of a music video for their single “Apeshit”. Timed to coincide with Everything is Love, their surprise joint album as The Carters, the video saw the couple, and Beyoncé in particular, performing in front of several significant paintings and sculptures in the museum’s vast collection.
Needless to say, two of the world’s most visible and successful black cultural figures seizing control of a space so synonymous with Western imperialism led to a lively debate in the days and weeks that followed. This episode reflects on that debate, in order to explore the wider relationship between buildings and power, questioning how a building like the Louvre comes to be invested with power, but also, how its seemingly immutable marriage of social and architectural order can be challenged by the sheer defiant presence of the historically excluded, doing something new in that space.
With some time passed since the video’s release, we’ll be reflecting on its impact on the Louvre, what it expresses about the museum’s position in contemporary society and what it portends for the future of museum spaces in general. In a bid to understand how the Louvre came to be such an imposing symbol of power in the first place, we’ll also be diving into its architectural history, which has long placed it at the very heart of the French state’s imperial ambitions.