During her residency at Les Laboratoires d’Aubervilliers, Latifa Laâbissi set up a research group initially started in Nantes in 2012, which brought together various artists, theorists and historians working in a range of disciplinary fields.
During her residency at Les Laboratoires d’Aubervilliers, Latifa Laâbissi set up a research group initially started in Nantes in 2012, which brought together various artists (Mathieu Kléyébé Abonnenc, Patrick Bernier, Latifa Laâbissi, Olive Martin), theorists and historians (Lotte Arndt, Emmanuelle Chérel) working in a range of disciplinary fields. The aim of the group was to reflect on aesthetic strategies developed within the art field (in particular in France) in order to transform the visual habituses inherited from colonisation and its afterlives. In January 2013, at the École des Beaux Arts in Nantes (School of Fine Art), the group carried out an initial stage of research, titled Ruser l’image, engaging with the notions of stereotype, counter-stereotype and anti-stereotype. The second research stage involved a week-long series of talks and events organised at Les Laboratoires d’Aubervilliers, from 9-13 December 2013.
The expression ‘toxic figures’ points to forms, images, bodies and gestures generated by representations and behaviours which produce and assign identities in the social and cultural sphere, involving damaging effects on individuals and the social body as they reproduce inequalities, processes of discrimination, and differentiated, reified identities. The expression also refers to a process of rupture, transformation and resistance that employs these subjecting representations in a complex fashion, through embodiment, distortion, twisting and disfigurement, in order to turn them on their head, to deconstruct, destabilise and disrupt these tightly policed, confined subjectivities. The toxic figure is a response to lived violence. The toxic figure inhabits the crisis and is a pervasive feature of our societies.
DEsFIGURES TOXIQUES endeavoured to identify toxic figures at work in contemporary society. Which kinds of constructions are we dealing with? What are their effects? During the week-long series of events and talks held at Les Laboratoires d’Aubervilliers in December 2013, the group explored areas such as the body as a site of the symptom and its overcoming, performance as a space of gestural transaction and circulation, and the institution as the site of transmission and experimentation.
Each day, the group proposed a range of events, discussion platforms and lectures, with guest speakers Alice Diop, Marie-Laure Allain, Elena Agudio, Yves Borowice, Maxime Cervulle, Azouz Gharbi, Olivier Marbœuf, Zahia Rahmani, Karima Ramdani, Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung, Ninette Succab-Glissant and Yolande Zauberman, as well as also shows and performances with Nadia Beugré, Volmir Cordeiro and Latifa Laâbissi.
The exchanges, materials and reflections developed over the course of the week were brought together and presented as part of a display — a malleable arrangement of images and texts, exhibited in Les Laboratoires d’Aubervilliers and constantly added to and enriched as the week progressed.
This project received support from the Department of Seine-Saint-Denis and was conducted in collaboration with the Nantes School of Fine Art and the Dance Department at the University of Paris-8 at Saint-Denis.