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Reading Session | ‘Venus in Two Acts’: a collective reading


Mudam Studio

Salma Mochtari

Within the framework of the exhibition

Tourmaline. Pleasure and Pollinator



Access to the event

Included in the entrance fee

t +352 453785–531

Through a collective reading of the essay ‘Venus in Two Acts’ (2008, Duke University Press/Project Muse) by the African-American theorist Saidiya Hartman, researcher and curator Salma Mochtari will explore the following questions: how to understand slavery’s archives and by extension, its history? What do they say, in their materiality, about these lives of slaves, and what do they obscure? If we must explore it, how can we write about lives whose only traces are left by those that violently destroyed them? How can we account for real lives and existences that were not only marked but fabricated by power relations, through archival fragments? More specifically, what can be said of slavery – and furthermore, of radical submission – that does not simply perpetuate the dominant narrative that created it? What can be said about slavery today when its afterlife still persists?

Salma Mochtari is a researcher and curator based in Marseille and a member of the curatorial and editorial collective Qalqalah قلقلة. Her research often stems from the conceptual circulations between the fields of art and contemporary philosophy. Based on the specific cases of archival absence and black studies, she works the present and future genealogies between contemporary, decolonial and queer critical studies, with the heritage of thinkers such as Cedric J. Robinson, Michel Foucault or Judith Butler. In addition to discursive programming, her curatorial practice is based on forms of collective production through workshops, translation or fiction writing.

Portrait of Salma Mochtari by Victorine Grataloup
Salma Mochtari
© Photo : Victorine Grataloup