Visiting Speakers Panel: France as a Black Space

September 28, 2019

On Saturday, September 28 at 2pm at Artspeak, Or Gallery will host a conversation with Françoise Vergès (writer, activist, curator; Paris, France) and Olivier Marboeuf (writer, curator; Paris, France) as part of a series of multi-sited events called Bodies Borders Fields. Vergès and Marboeuf are prolific in their production of critical texts and other forms of artistic output examining the impact of French colonial institutions on both indigenous and migrant black and Arab populations. Here, they are invited to think about how French African and Caribbean cultures are not only present in France but a tool with which to produce and highlight black space.


Bodies Borders Fields, is a series of events that follow up on a 1967 panel conversation on the aesthetic and formal connotations of ‘black’ as a cultural modality, organized by artscanada magazine. Responding to an absence of black experience in discussions between the 1967 panelists, an absence that has since been examined by writers Fred Moten, Krys Verrall and others, Bodies Borders Fields will dislocate the original panel discussion to contemporary contexts and representations of black and blackness in sound, performance and visual culture with respect to black social life and expression.


By inviting participants who have a stake in contemporary discourses and readings of black and blackness as a signifier as well as a lived-experience shared by generations of the black diaspora, Bodies Borders Fields hopes to support ongoing and future discussions of blackness as an ever shifting, circulating and transforming factor for the survival and destabilization of colonial systems and institutions.


Bodies Borders Fields, will take place in Toronto and Vancouver throughout fall 2019. Following the Vancouver iteration on “France as a Black Space” a multi-day symposium will take place at the Toronto Media Arts Centre (32 Lisgar Street) from November 22-24th. The symposium will consist of a series of talks and workshops.


Confirmed speakers, workshop facilitators and performers so far for the symposium include: Raymond Boisjoly (artist; Vancouver), Deanna Bowen (artist; Toronto), Rizvana Bradley (History of Art & African-American Studies; Yale University), Joshua Chambers-Letson (Performance Studies; Northwestern University), Adrienne Edwards (curator; Whitney Museum, NY), Keyon Gaskin (artist; Portland, OR), Che Gossett (Trans/Gender Studies; Rutgers University), Steffani Jemison (artist; Brooklyn, NY), Aisha Sasha John (artist; Toronto), Olivier Marboeuf (writer, curator; Paris, France), Charmaine Nelson (Art History; McGill University), Tina Post (Department of English Language and Literature; University of Chicago), Françoise Vergès (writer, activist, curator; Paris, France), Kandis Williams (artist; Berlin/Los Angeles).


All roundtables, talks and panels are free and open to the public. Registration may be required for workshops.

Bodies Borders Fields is a collaborative presentation of Trinity Square Video and Or Gallery with support from the Cultural and Scientific Service of the Embassy of France to Canada, OCADU, the Toronto Media Arts Centre and the Canada Council for the Arts Sector Innovation Grant. The symposium is co-convened by Denise Ryner and Yaniya Lee with organizational support by Emily Fitzpatrick and Karina Iskandarsjah.


The Or Gallery acknowledges its presence on unceded xwməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish) and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) territories.

Participant Bios

Olivier Marboeuf is an author, critic, performer and curator. In Paris, he founded and directed the contemporary arts space, l’Espace Khiasma from 2004 until its close in 2018. At Khiasma, he has developed a programme addressing minority representations through exhibitions, screenings, debates, performances and collaborative projects across the North-East of Paris. Since 2017 Khiasma has morphed into an experimental platform, exploring ways of creating a place collectively and developing an online radiophonic tool, R22 Tout-Monde. Interested in different modalities of knowledge transmission, Olivier Marboeuf’s proposals are inscribed in conversational practices and speculative narratives, attempting to create ephemeral situations of culture.

François Vergès is a Paris-based author, curator and activist whose most recent publication Un féminisme décolonial (2019) considers the perspective of racialized feminists and the conditions for intersectional solidarity and radical transformation of society. She has published, in French and in English, works and articles on Frantz Fanon, Aimé Césaire, the ambiguities of abolitionism, colonial and postcolonial psychiatry, slavery remembrance, the processes of creolisation in the Indian Ocean, and new forms of colonisation and racialisation. She produced documentary films on Maryse Condé and Aimé Césaire, and was project advisor for documenta 11 (2002) and the Triennale de Paris (2011).