The Black body in the West carries with it an age-old story of resistance, but also one of intersectionality. That term designates the cumulative way in which the effects of multiple social barriers overlap. First formulated by legal scholar Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw to describe the systemic problems Black women experience daily, it is an idea providing a better way to think about the inequalities and injustices faced by minorities and women today.
Historically charged, Black bodies are subject to daily management on the part of the numerous identities associated with them. This includes management of the relationship to the non-Black alterity, as well as of the social structures that have not been provided for them. Moreover, such historically subordinated bodies are also mistakenly interpreted as bearers of inferior, or less valid, knowledge.
In many so-called “traditional” cultures, they take part in a politics of knowledge sharing known as body-politics, in that the body is locus and library of knowledge transmitted orally. As Amadou Hampâté Ba said, “In Africa, when an old person dies, a library burns down.” Such a dual interpretation of inferiority indicates an asymmetric and hegemonic stance in regard to bodies that are bearers of “good” knowledge. Therefore, what knowledge and what memory do they bear now? How do artists rearticulate this dual ascription? How do they vitally contribute to the community?
Kama La Mackerel, a native of Mauritius, is a multidisciplinary artist, educator, cultural mediator, writer and literary translator who lives and works in Montreal.
Gerty Dambury, a writer and director, was born in Pointe-à-Pitre, Guadeloupe. She now lives and works in Montreuil, France.
Thérèse St-Gelais is a professor in the Department of Art History and a director of the Institut de recherches et d’études féministes at the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM).
Eddy Firmin, a native of Guadeloupe, in the French Caribbean, is an artist, academic and speaker. He lives and works in Canada, sharing his time between Montreal, where he has a studio, and Halifax, where he is an assistant professor at NSCAD University.
A presentation of Af-Flux: Biennale transnationale noire, in partnership with the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.
Curatorial team: Eddy Firmin, curator of the first edition of Af-Flux: Biennale transnationale noire. Curator in charge of the presentation at the MMFA: Iris Amizlev, Curator – Community Engagement and Projects, MMFA.