“Cyparis” s a seemin­gly clas­sical monumen­tal form. However, the mas­sive bust of a black male was cast in an unusual material: vol­canic sand col­lec­ted on a beach in St. Pierre, Mar­tinique. The work is devoted to Louis-​Auguste Cyparis (or Ludger Syl­baris) known as Samson, one of the two survivors of the vol­canic erup­tion of Mt. Pelée on 8th of May 1902 (three days prior to the local elec­tions in the French colony), which ravaged the city of St. Pierre leaving over twenty thousand casual­ties. Cyparis became an acciden­tal hero. He survived merely because he had been detained in a tiny cell of the local jail from few days before the disaster. Soon after he gained popularity as a member of the traveling troupe Barnum & Bailey Circus appearing as the “Lone Survivor of St. Pierre.” During his residence in Mar­tinique in 2009 Rafal Buj­now­ski decided to re-​examine the figure of Cyparis. The project will cul­minate with the official unveiling of the sculp­ture (cast in cooperation with Julian Tomaszuk on the basis of existing photographs) in the city of St. Pierre. A model anti-​hero, a man from the margin who wins fame paren­thetically, a tale of the unpredic­tability of fate in the face of the projec­ted social and historical order. Bujnowski’s monument com­plements this tale, paying a modest homage and bestowing the power of represen­tation to that which eludes sys­tems of political planning.

Louis-Auguste Cyparis

volcanic sand, resin, 59 x 50 x 23 cm, 53 x 74,5 x 6 cm