The intensifying manifestations of toxic destruction on marginalized and segregated communities and on the long-run, the earth system as a whole, have increasingly gathered the attention of artists, cultural practitioners and more generally people and groups from different walks of life who, in their diverse ways, are untangling the systemic nature of toxic dissemination by tracing and analysing the sources, trajectories and ramifications of its travels on a global scale. Structural inequality has produced a market of exchange that enables the global North to export, or “externalize”, dirty processes and hazardous materiality to the global South at the cost of uncalculated environmental risks and public health hazards on the receiving end. At the same time, weak legislations, corruption, inadequate monitoring, exploitative and opportunistic corporate politics allow for the continuous and insidious spread of toxic destruction. Asymmetrical power relations and programmatic obliterations enable citizens of big polluting countries to remain relatively oblivious to the consequences of their unsustainable lifestyle choices. One core issue is that this toxic dissemination is slow and unspectacular, and that the often unquantifiable damage produced by the toxic, surpasses many spatial and temporal conceptions known to man so far, systematically leaving the majority of its victims, human and non-human, unaccounted for.

The third chapter of our long-term investigation on THE INVENTION OF SCIENCE with this research exhibition and discursive program, looks into the contemporary politics of toxic (waste) trades and their economies, within the context of the racial Capitalocene. As Françoise Vergès writes “a connection (…) between the Western conception of nature as ‘cheap’ and the global organization of a ‘cheap,’ racialized, disposable workforce" [1] and the unequal and deeply racialized distribution of environmental catastrophes. With it we engage in an effort to expand the notion of what the toxic is conceived and perceived as, beyond the scientific paradigm, instead entering into a different epistemological realm that has to do with a multitude of systems of belief, perception and knowledge production.


Françoise Vergès, "Racial Capitalocene. Is the Anthropocene Racial?", in: Futures of Black Radicalism, Edited by Gaye Theresa Johnson and Alex Lubin, Verso Books, 2017.