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Conversations · Exhibition-Related

Vanessa Agard-Jones: On Toxicity

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Photo: Carla Phillips

In this event, organized on the occasion of “Simone Leigh: The Waiting Room,” anthropologist Vanessa Agard-Jones will share research from her forthcoming book, Body Burdens: Toxic Endurance and Decolonial Desire in the French Atlantic, which considers pesticides, sexual politics, and postcoloniality in Martinique. “Body burden” is a term that has been used by toxicologists for the past half century to describe the accumulated amount of harmful substances present in the body of a human or an animal. While the original meaning of “body burden” draws from a scientific definition of contamination, such “burdens” are at once material and metaphorical. In particular, they account for the ways in which black bodies remain inextricably entangled with the forces of capital—and are disproportionately porous in the face of exposure to, and penetration by, both toxic materials and toxic discourses.

Agard-Jones has held the position of Assistant Professor of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Yale University and recently joined the faculty of Columbia University as Assistant Professor of Anthropology. She was formerly Managing Editor of Small Axe: A Caribbean Journal of Criticism and Souls: A Critical Journal of Black Politics, Culture and Society. She has also previously served as the coordinator of the Prison Activist Resource Center in Oakland, CA, and as the board chair of the Audre Lorde Project in New York.

Sponsors

“Simone Leigh: The Waiting Room” is made possible by support provided by the Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation and the Toby Devan Lewis Emerging Artists Exhibitions Fund.

Artist commissions at the New Museum are generously supported by the Neeson / Edlis Artist Commissions Fund. Artist residencies are made possible, in part, by Laurie Wolfert.

Further exhibition support is provided by public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, and from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.

Endowment support is provided by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the Skadden, Arps Education Programs Fund, and the William Randolph Hearst Endowed Fund for Education Programs at the New Museum.

Special thanks to A Blade of Grass.

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