Loophole of Retreat: A Conference Part 2 of 3

From a peephole in her grandmother’s garret that rests on her master’s property, a young woman watches while remaining concealed. Inspired by the autobiography of writer, abolitionist, and escaped slave girl Harriet Jacobs (1813-97), “Loophole of Retreat” locates a space of creation within places of capture. This self-reflexive production of freedom within incarceration – a hidden reality carved from within the center of power – served as our metaphor for this convening. An international constellation of writers, artists, poets, filmmakers, academics, and activists came together for a daylong gathering dedicated to the intellectual life of black women. Invited by artist Simone Leigh, feminist scholar Tina Campt, and cultural historian Saidiya Hartman, participants responded through papers, readings, and performance.

Organized on the occasion of “The Hugo Boss Prize 2018: Simone Leigh, Loophole of Retreat”. The Hugo Boss Prize and the exhibition are made possible by HUGO BOSS.

Order of appearance:
Dionne Brand 2:46
Zakiyyah Iman Jackson 14:10
Christina Sharpe 29:41
Vanessa Agard-Jones 40:38

Participant bios:

Vanessa Agard-Jones is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Columbia University, where she also serves on the Executive Council of the Institute for Research on Women, Gender, and Sexuality and is affiliated with the Institute for Research in African-American Studies. She is the former Managing Editor of the journals “Small Axe: A Caribbean Journal of Criticism” and “Souls: A Critical Journal of Black Politics, Culture and Society”, and is currently a member of the Social Text Collective.

Dionne Brand is a renowned and critically acclaimed poet, novelist, and essayist. Her most recent books are “The Blue Clerk: Ars Poetica in 59 Versos” and “Theory”, a novel. Her award-winning writing is notable for the beauty of its language, and for its intense political engagement. She was Poet Laureate of the City of Toronto, 2009–12, and received the Order of Canada in 2017. Brand is Professor in the School of English and Theatre Studies at the University of Guelph.

Zakiyyah Iman Jackson is Assistant Professor of English at the University of Southern California. Working at the intersection of African diasporic literature and visual culture, philosophical metaphysics, science studies, and aesthetics, her research explores historical and emergent linkages between the humanities and the sciences on the question of being. Professor Jackson’s book, titled “Being and Blackness: Matter and Meaning After Man”, is forthcoming from NYU Press.

Christina Sharpe is Professor at York University, Toronto in the Department of Humanities and a Distinguished Visiting Professor at Ryerson University. She is the author of two books, “In the Wake: On Blackness and Being” (2016) and “Monstrous Intimacies: Making Post-Slavery Subjects” (2010), both published by Duke University Press. She is currently working on a monograph: “Black. Still. Life.”


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