Sable E. Smith, Still from History of Silence, 2015

February 16th through April 29th 2017
Rond-Point Projects, Marseille

First Cycle
Kerry Downey
Kambui Olujimi
Sable Elyse Smith
Jody Wood

Second Cycle
Ana Maria Gomes
Kumi James
Dania Reymond

Third Cycle
Mathieu Kleyebe Abonnenc
Fayçal Baghriche
Xandra Ibarra

Curated by Natasha Marie Llorens

You don’t know. You don’t know what she means. You don’t know what response she expects from you nor do you care. For all your previous understandings, suddenly incoherence feels violent. You both experience this cut, which she keeps insisting is a joke, a joke stuck in her throat, and like any other injury, you watch it rupture along its suddenly exposed suture.
Claudia Rankine, Citizen, 42.

Claudia Rankine’s book makes legible the psychological injury racism inflicts. She argues that yes there are fully conscious policies to maintain the invisibility of non-white, non-normative histories and to undermine the dignity of non-white, non-normative bodies — but there are also a thousand injuries to such bodies that fall below the threshold of consciousness. Injuries that would fall out of political discourse altogether were it not for writers like Rankine.

This exhibition is organized around her insight: that the political subject, or the citizen, is as vulnerable to psychological violence as she is to more “direct” or “physical” forms of violence. The work included in this project pictures the moment of injury as one in which the distinction between “political” violence and inchoate “personal” forms of violence—a badly turned joke, a misspoken pronoun, an off-hand gesture, a misrecognition—is destabilized.

In this focus, the exhibition makes an effort to address sexist, homophobic, transphobic and racist structural violence together. This impulse comes from the awareness that we need intersectional frames with some urgency. Hopefully this gesture will not collapse each kind of injury into some neutral, general category of violence, but will maintain their necessary and incommensurable difference. We will see.

The exhibition is co-produced with and takes place at Rond-Point Projects, an independent arts space occupying a former pharmacist’s shop in the La Plaine neighborhood of the city of Marseille. A series of videos exhibited at different scales in the same small space — the installation tries to think moments of encounter between the body and the work in a way that mirrors our everyday encounter with representations of violence. To the same effect, the works or excerpts are shown here, on this site, because it also true that today we encounter so much visual material online. One way of watching does not replace another; they each fold out from the same seam. Three cycles, each composed of three or four artists, are planned over the course of the late winter and early spring 2017. The exhibition is a research project held in common, a threshing floor, with both video and interviews between us. One evening of performance or debate will be planned in conjunction with each cycle of the project.

« Tu ne sais pas. Tu ne sais pas ce qu’elle veut dire. Tu ne sais pas quelle réponse elle attend de toi et tu t’en fiches. Au regard de tout ce que tu avais compris auparavant, soudain l’incohérence frappe violemment. Vous ressentez toutes deux cette coupure, qu’elle continue à appeler une plaisanterie, une plaisanterie qui reste coincée en travers de sa gorge, et comme n’importe quelle autre blessure, tu la regardes s’ouvrir en même temps que sa suture est brusquement exposée. » – Claudia Rankine, Citizen, 42.

Le livre de Claudia Rankine, Citizen, déchiffre la blessure psychologique qu’inflige le racisme. L’auteur affirme que, OUI, il y a des politiques qui visent consciemment à entretenir l’invisibilité des histoires non-blanches et non-normatives et à dénier la dignité des corps non-blancs et non-normatifs – MAIS il y a aussi des milliers de blessures qui ne passent pas le seuil de la conscience. Ces blessures resteraient purement et simplement exclues du champ du discours politique s’il n’y avait des écrivains comme Rankine.

L’exposition s’articule autour de cette vision?: le sujet politique, ou le citoyen, est aussi vulnérable à la violence psychologique qu’il ou elle l’est à des formes de violence plus « directes » ou « physiques ». Les œuvres inclues dans ce projet représentent l’expérience de la blessure comme celle d’un moment où la distinction entre la violence « politique » et les formes de violence « personnelle » vague – une plaisanterie mal tournée, un pronom mal épelé, un geste déplacé, un manque de reconnaissance – est déstabilisée. Dans cette perspective, l’exposition cherche à prendre en compte tout à la fois la violence structurelle sexiste, homophobe et raciste.




"The Exposed Suture" is the fourth exhibition project in a long-term curatorial research initiative on the representation of violence in contemporary art. Other projects to date: “Frames of War,” at Momenta Art in Brooklyn, which presented art that considered war as lingering structural violence rather than as a catastrophic event; “vois-tu pas…que je brûle?(do you not see…” in the Essex Street Market in Manhattan, presented two commissioned sculpture projects concerned with the relationship between desire and violence in the commodity form—a form that denies the violence of its own production in order to be desirable; “City and City,” at the Aronson Gallery in Manhattan, which rendered the breach in the fabric of the City that gentrification has open in Beirut and New York.

Natasha Marie Llorens is an independent curator and writer based between New York and Marseille, France. She is a graduate of the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College and a Ph.D. candidate in art history at Columbia University. Her academic research is focused on violence and representation in Algerian national cinema from the 1960s and 1970s.