press & talk

Against the Toxic: Acts of Disobedience, Interdependence and Vulnerability


PANEL DISCUSSION | Against the Toxic: Acts of Disobedience, Interdependence and Vulnerability


Emilia Roig (Center For Intersectional Justice)

Imeh Ituen and Rebecca Abena Kennedy-Asante (BPoC Environmental and Climate Justice Collective)

Moro Yapha (Wearebornfree! Empowerment Radio)

Kate Sagovsky (XR Extinction Rebellion)

Date: 8 November, 16:30-18:00

Venue: SAVVY Contemporary Plantagenstraße 31 13447 Berlin

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We aim to question the matrix of shared accountability and find out what possible actions and mobilizations could constitute long term affordability, and lead us not only to reduce production but also to redistribute the painfully unequal presence of the toxic. How can we form interdependent networks of disobedience that stem from a position of listening and care rather than non-egalitarian codependency and reactive sympathy?

The toxic trade-off inherent in exploitative and abusive processes of extraction, production, and disposal lie at the heart of the changing nature of the ecosystems to which we now belong – with millions of metric tons of synthetic materials, pesticides, heavy metals, and chemicals released and circulated every year. Structural inequalities on a global scale permit for some lives to remain relatively untouched by toxic proliferation through systems of “externalization” (Stephan Lessenich) whilst many reside in high concentrations and lethal exposure on a daily basis out of mere necessity of survival. The new age of toxicity is “a condition that is shared, but unevenly so, and which divides us as much as it binds us” (Michelle Murphy).

The concentration of our collective effort is neither to pick apart and sort into common-sensible categories, nor is it to demonize, point fingers, or catalyze an indigestible sense of paralyzing guilt about the state of the world. Rather, our aim is to open up a space for an artistic and critical registry that encourages us to pause and sense the toxic presences and textures otherwise, to acknowledge and mourn its ongoing victims, and to listen to the movement of its shadows. In so doing, we hope to shift sensibilities away from one of paranoid containment and fear, to an outlook fueled by reflexivity and nuance, and to nurture the act of noticing how actions on the most intimate scale are closely tied to the global – as everywhere is ultimately a here. In a time particularly plagued by simplifications and a desire for purity, it is vital to exhort to fight against the vicious machinations that have led to this current state of affairs and to do all that is possible to escape the deplorable conditions they keep producing: from small everyday actions to spectacular mobilizations, from swift responses to strategic and sustained engagement. At the heart of every move lies the impetus to foster new political subjects, that keep on growing, however painful, deep from the past and into the future.

THE LONG TERM YOU CANNOT AFFORD is the third chapter of our long-term investigation THE INVENTION OF SCIENCE.

The project is funded by Hauptstadtkulturfonds and the Foundation for Arts Initiatives.