Mickael Broth | La Voie Sacree
One hundred years ago in February of 1916 the German Army launched an offensive on the ancient city of Verdun in northeast France. It was decided early on by the French government to maintain control of the city at all cost. In order to supply the French resistance with a constant stream of supplies, a 37-mile road to the remote city had to be defended and maintained. Up to 90,000 troops, 50,000 tons of ammunition and 12,000 trucks traveled this route every week. This road, simply called “La Route” at the time, came to be known a “La Voie Sacree” or “The Sacred Road” after the war. After ten months of constant carnage, disease and death, the German army deemed the offensive a failure, giving the French a victory while costing nearly one million human lives.
“La Voie Sacree” is the path artist Mickael Broth has taken in an attempt to grapple with the unimaginable, all-consuming, devastating realities of war. When depicting historical realities, one is faced with the persistent dilemma of communicating to a contemporary audience, with present-day materials, in order to shatter preconceived notions presented by popular culture and media, of what history was. Broth’s invitation to the unstable realm of war comes via the seduction of surface and grid. The bright patterns and fluid forms float on an infinite blackness, under a mirror-like glaze, resulting in one’s own self being integrated with the image. On close inspection, each work in this grid is collaged of images/text/media from our present world. Advertisements, body parts, and wheels are among the fragments of exploding pop culture, whose bursts are reminiscent of firework displays; a violent entertainment. In this way Broth provides an entry point and context to approach the remainder of the installation. The motif of the explosion repeats, scale is amplified and the gloss disappears, culminating in a rough, crude and violent depiction of the casualties of war.
Mickael Broth is Richmond-based artist, muralist, and writer. Broth came to Richmond in 2001 with the intention of painting graffiti as much as possible. His involvement in vandalism was halted abruptly with his arrest in 2004 and subsequent ten-month jail term for his crimes. Since that time, he has gone on to pursue a successful and active career in the arts. He was awarded a VMFA professional fellowship in 2008 for his gallery work and has painted numerous murals throughout Richmond and the United States over the past decade, most notably locally at Mellow Mushroom in Carytown, and "The Wizard" at the GRTC Bus Depot. Broth has been an active member of the community, working with youth art groups through Art 180 and Petersburg Area Art League, as well as leading groups of volunteers in conjunction with HandsOn Greater Richmond, in addition to contributing work to multiple non-profit organizations. Broth is the founder of Welcoming Walls, a project dedicated to bring large-scale public art to the highways and gateways of Richmond Virginia in an effort to boost civic pride, tourism, and the city's reputation as a capital of creativity.