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Shawn Mendes bares his heart in Netflix doc ‘In Wonder’

At least that’s what the new trailer for his Netflix documentary “In Wonder” wants to stress.According to the streaming giant the doc “follows Shawn Mendes’ journey toward self-discovery, after the physical and emotional demands of his rise, and his last world tour, pushed him towards a personal and musical reckoning.”In the trailer Mendes says, “This…

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At least that’s what the new trailer for his Netflix documentary “In Wonder” wants to stress.According to the streaming giant the doc “follows Shawn Mendes’ journey toward self-discovery, after the physical and emotional demands of his rise, and his last world tour, pushed him towards a personal and musical reckoning.”In the trailer Mendes says, “This isn’t a story about a famous musician. This is a story about a guy growing up.”And yet the 22-year-old former You Tube star is very aware that the world sees him as a musical superstar.”If I tell the world I’m just a normal human, will they stop coming to my shows?” Mendes asks. “Maybe I should pretend I’m Superman for a little bit longer.”We also appear to learn a bit about his love affair with fellow singer Camila Cabello, who he’s been dating for over a year.”My song comes on the radio or something and I’m like, ‘Everything’s about you. They’re all, they have always been about you,'” he says as we see a shot of Cabello. “She goes, ‘What do you mean?’ Like, they’re all about you. Like every song I’ve ever wrote.”The debut feature length documentary will be released on Netflix on November 23.

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All the best Black Friday deals you can shop at Amazon right now

(CNN) —   Today’s the day. Black Friday is here, and so are incredible savings on products across all categories at Amazon. The mega retailer is rolling out deals upon deals on everything from giftable favorites to every-day necessities. With so many sales to choose from, we’re here to make your Amazon shopping a cinch.…

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(CNN) —  

Today’s the day. Black Friday is here, and so are incredible savings on products across all categories at Amazon. The mega retailer is rolling out deals upon deals on everything from giftable favorites to every-day necessities.

With so many sales to choose from, we’re here to make your Amazon shopping a cinch. Below, we’ve rounded up the biggest and best of the Amazon deals. Stuff will start selling out quick, so don’t wait to cash in on the once-a-year savings.

Below, find the best deals happening at Amazon. Keep in mind, some deals will only last for one day or until sold out, so if you see something you like, act fast. And if today’s not your day, don’t fret; the Underscored team will be staying on top of Amazon’s limited-time deals all week long. Look out for updates each day brand new sales and savings tomorrow and beyond.

MyQ Smart Garage Door Opener ($16.98, originally $39.98; amazon.com)

MyQ Smart Garage Door Opener

MyQ Smart Garage Door Opener

PHOTO:
Amazon

If you’re looking to upgrade your garage door opener (and honestly, who isn’t?) the MyQ smart garage door opener is beloved by shoppers. Through an app on your phone, you can open or close your garage door from anywhere, and you can add up to three people with the app too, which is ideal for families.

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Apple Airpods Pro ($169, originally $249; amazon.com)

Apple Airpods Pro

Apple Airpods Pro

PHOTO:
Amazon

AirPods Pro are at the top of many peoples’ wish lists, and right now, you can get a pair for the lowest price we’ve seen at Amazon (discount is applied at checkout). You can also snag AirPods with Wireless Charging Case for $149.99 and the version with a wired charging case for the respectable price of $119. Supply is limited, so you’ll need to check back if they are out of stock.

There are also deals going on for the Airpods below:

AirPods With Charging Case ($119, originally $159; amazon.com)

AirPods With Wireless Charging Case ($149.99, originally $199; amazon.com)

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Ring Video Doorbells (starting at $69.99; amazon.com)

Ring Video Doorbells

Ring Video Doorbells

PHOTO:
Amazon

Two of Ring’s newest video doorbells in both silver and bronze are marked down. They feature 1080p HD video, super-easy installation and improved motion detection, so you’ll always know when someone is at your door.

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Echo Flex ($9.99, originally $24.99; amazon.com)

Echo Flex

The tiny Echo Flex allows you to add a smart speaker to even the smallest of rooms, and right now, it’s down to the miniscule price of just $9.99. Just plug it into an outlet, and Alexa is at your service.

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Energizer Max AA + AAA Batteries Combo Pack ($24.10, originally $31.97; amazon.com)

Energizer Max AA + AAA Batteries Combo Pack

Energizer Max AA + AAA Batteries Combo Pack

PHOTO:
Amazon

You can never have too many batteries on hand. This combo pack from Energizer has a total of 48 AA and AAA batteries to power tons of your devices.

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Kasa Smart Plugs, 4-Pack ($26.99, originally $29.99; amazon.com)

Kasa Smart Plugs, 4-pack

Kasa Smart Plugs, 4-pack

PHOTO:
Amazon

Make any outlet in your home smart with this four-pack of Kasa smart plugs by TP-Link. They work with both Alexa and Google Home Assistant and are incredibly easy to set up.

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Steelcase Series 1 Work Office Chair ($319.99, originally $395; amazon.com)

Steelcase Series 1 Work Office Chair

Steelcase Series 1 Work Office Chair

PHOTO:
Amazon

Our top pick for best office chair is now down to its lowest price ever. It’s one of the most customizable, high-quality, comfortable office chairs on the market.

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Trtl Travel Pillow ($18, originally $39.99; amazon.com)

Trtl Travel Pillow

Trtl Travel Pillow

PHOTO:
Amazon

Even if you’re not taking trips right now, you should still consider investing in this bestselling travel pillow. It’s made with super soft fleece and features an internal support that allows you to comfortably rest your head. Don’t forget to clip the on-page coupon for an extra 25% off.

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Dash Rapid Egg Cooker ($15.99, originally $19.99; amazon.com)

Dash Rapid Egg Cooker

Dash Rapid Egg Cooker

PHOTO:
Amazon

Whipping up half a dozen eggs has never been easier. This Dash Rapid Egg Cooker can hard boil, soft boil, poach, scramble and make omelets. Plus, it only weighs 1 pound and won’t take up too much counter space.

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LifeStraw ($12.97, originally $19.95; amazon.com)

A must-have for camping, hiking and even traveling, the LifeStraw ensures you always have access to clean water with its built-in filter you can drink right out of.

Echo Flex ($9.99, originally $24.99; amazon.com)

Echo Flex

The tiny Echo Flex allows you to add a smart speaker to even the smallest of rooms, and right now, it’s down to the miniscule price of just $9.99. Just plug it into an outlet, and Alexa is at your service.

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4th-Gen Echo Dot ($28.99, originally $49.99; amazon.com)

4th Gen Echo Dot

4th Gen Echo Dot

PHOTO:
Amazon

The recently released fourth-generation Echo Dot, which features a new spherical shape, is on sale for the first time for Black Friday. Get yours for just $28.99 if you want the base model, or pay $10 more (still a great discount) the Echo Dot with Clock or the Kids Edition.

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Ring Video Doorbells (starting at $69.99; amazon.com)

Ring Video Doorbells

Ring Video Doorbells

PHOTO:
Amazon

Two of Ring’s newest video doorbells in both silver and bronze are marked down. They feature 1080p HD video, super-easy installation and improved motion detection, so you’ll always know when someone is at your door.

____________________________________________________________________________

Echo Show 8 ($64.99, originally $129.99; amazon.com)

Echo Show 8

Echo Show 8

PHOTO:
Amazon

Now’s the time to add an Echo Show 8 to your home. The smart display is back down to its lowest price ever in both charcoal and sandstone colorways.

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Fire HD Tablet 8 Plus ($74.99, originally $109.99; amazon.com)

Fire HD Tablet 8 Plus

Fire HD Tablet 8 Plus

PHOTO:
Amazon

Our budget pick for best tablet, the Fire HD Tablet 8 Plus is now back down to its lowest price ever. It can handle a fairly comprehensive range of everyday tasks, including streaming, e-reading and even some light gaming.

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Blink Mini ($24.99, originally $34.99; amazon.com)

Blink Mini

Up your home’s security with this smart, compact Blink Mini indoor smart security camera. It features two-way audio and motion detection, meaning you can opt to get alerts on your smartphone whenever there’s movement in your customized zones.

Apple Airpods Pro ($169, originally $249; amazon.com)

Apple Airpods Pro

Apple Airpods Pro

PHOTO:
Amazon

AirPods Pro are at the top of many peoples’ wish lists, and right now, you can get a pair for the lowest price we’ve seen at Amazon (discount is applied at checkout). You can also snag AirPods with Wireless Charging Case for $149.99 and the version with a wired charging case for the respectable price of $119.

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Energizer Max AA + AAA Batteries Combo Pack ($24.10, originally $31.97; amazon.com)

Energizer Max AA + AAA Batteries Combo Pack

Energizer Max AA + AAA Batteries Combo Pack

PHOTO:
Amazon

You can never have too many batteries on hand. This combo pack from Energizer has a total of 48 AA and AAA batteries to power tons of your devices.

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Kasa Smart Plugs, 4-Pack ($26.99, originally $29.99; amazon.com)

Kasa Smart Plugs, 4-pack

Kasa Smart Plugs, 4-pack

PHOTO:
Amazon

Make any outlet in your home smart with this four-pack of Kasa smart plugs by TP-Link. They work with both Alexa and Google Home Assistant and are incredibly easy to set up.

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Sony WH1000XM4 Over-Ear Headphones ($278, originally $349.99; amazon.com)

Sony WH1000XM4 Over-Ear Headphones

Sony WH1000XM4 Over-Ear Headphones

PHOTO:
Amazon

These Sony headphones were named Underscored’s pick for best overall over-ear headphones, and for Black Friday, they’re back down to just $278, the lowest price we’ve seen. In our opinion, they’re truly top-notch when it comes to sound quality, comfort, battery life and noise cancellation.

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Roku Ultra Media Streaming Player ($69, originally $99.99; amazon.com)

Roku Ultra Media Streaming Player

Roku Ultra Media Streaming Player

PHOTO:
Amazon

Our favorite streaming device, the Roku Ultra, is now available for about $30 off its usual price. The recently updated player is faster than the previous version, and it features Dolby Vision HDR support and improved Wi-Fi performance.

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Tile Trackers (starting at $17.99; amazon.com)

Tile Trackers

Tile Trackers

PHOTO:
Amazon

If you’re prone to losing your keys or wallet, pay attention to this deal on a couple Tile Trackers. You’ll find savings of up to 28% on the Tile Mate, which easily hooks onto your key ring, and Tile Slim, which fits into your wallet like a credit card.

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Anker Rechargeable Bolder LC90 LED Flashlight ($22.99, originally $29.99; amazon.com)

Anker Rechargeable Bolder LC90 LED Flashlight

Anker Rechargeable Bolder LC90 LED Flashlight

PHOTO:
Amazon

It’s never a bad idea to have a flashlight on hand. This super bright one from Anker features 900 lumens and reaches the length of two football fields.

Instant Pot Ultra (starting at $99.99; amazon.com)

Instant Pot Ultra

Instant Pot Ultra

PHOTO:
Amazon

The magical 10-in-1 pressure cooker from Instant Pot is on sale so you can cook, steam, warm and so much more for less. Both the 6-quart and 8-quart versions are discounted so you can whip up meals in a jiffy, no matter your family size.

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Shark Vacuums (starting at $119.99; amazon.com)

Shark Vacuums

Shark Vacuums

PHOTO:
Amazon

Shark Vacuums can help you clean up all your holiday messes with 45% off both a robot and corded vacuum. Packed with self-cleaning technology along with being WiFi- and Alexa-enabled, leave the cleaning to the robots with Shark’s smart vacuum (they’re probably better at it than you anyway).

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LifeStraw ($12.97, originally $19.95; amazon.com)

A must-have for camping, hiking and even traveling, the LifeStraw ensures you always have access to clean water with its built-in filter you can drink right out of.

____________________________________________________________________________

Steelcase Series 1 Work Office Chair ($319.99, originally $395; amazon.com)

Steelcase Series 1 Work Office Chair

Steelcase Series 1 Work Office Chair

PHOTO:
Amazon

Our top pick for best office chair is now down to its lowest price ever. It’s one of the most customizable, high-quality, comfortable office chairs on the market.

____________________________________________________________________________

MyQ Smart Garage Door Opener ($16.98, originally $39.98; amazon.com)

MyQ Smart Garage Door Opener

MyQ Smart Garage Door Opener

PHOTO:
Amazon

If you’re looking to upgrade your garage door opener (and honestly, who isn’t?) the MyQ smart garage door opener is beloved by shoppers. Through an app on your phone, you can open or close your garage door from anywhere, and you can add up to three people with the app too, which is ideal for families.

____________________________________________________________________________

Rocketbook Smart Reusable Notebook ($20.55, originally $34; amazon.com)

Rocketbook Smart Reusable Notebook

Rocketbook Smart Reusable Notebook

PHOTO:
Amazon

This is the last notebook you’ll ever need to buy. Rocketbooks are reusable, so when its 32 pages are full, just wipe it clean with a damp cloth and get back to writing. Not to mention, you can import your handwritten notes into a number of popular cloud services, so they’ll never be lost.

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Trtl Travel Pillow ($18, originally $39.99; amazon.com)

Trtl Travel Pillow

Trtl Travel Pillow

PHOTO:
Amazon

Even if you’re not taking trips right now, you should still consider investing in this bestselling travel pillow. It’s made with super soft fleece and features an internal support that allows you to comfortably rest your head. Don’t forget to clip the on-page coupon for an extra 25% off.

____________________________________________________________________________

Dash Rapid Egg Cooker ($15.99, originally $19.99; amazon.com)

Dash Rapid Egg Cooker

Dash Rapid Egg Cooker

PHOTO:
Amazon

Whipping up half a dozen eggs has never been easier. This Dash Rapid Egg Cooker can hard boil, soft boil, poach, scramble and make omelets. Plus, it only weighs 1 pound and won’t take up too much counter space.

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23andMe ($99, originally $199; amazon.com)

23andMe

Always wanted to know your family’s ancestry? This 50% off deal on 23andMe lets you do just that, with a detailed report on not only your lineage but your health predispositions, carrier statuses and more.

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Bissell MyAir Purifier ($69.99, originally $89.99; amazon.com)

Bissell MyAir Purifier

Bissell MyAir Purifier

PHOTO:
Amazon

Between the California wildfires and the fact that we’re now dealing with an airborne virus, air purifiers have skyrocketed to mass popularity this year. This one can rid the air 99.7% of air particles, making it effective in capturing dust, pollen, smoke and pet dander. It’s also quite small so you can easily place it under your bedside table or even on top of your kitchen counter.

Amazon Brand Fashion (starting at $7.10; amazon.com)

Fashion from Amazon brands

Fashion from Amazon brands

PHOTO:
Amazon

Amazon’s own in-house brands like Daily Ritual, Goodthreads and Amazon Essentials have become fashion lines in their own right, and right now, you can get up to 30% off on styles for men and women. Tons of cold-weather clothes are discounted so you can bundle up and stay warm as the temperatures dip.

Haggar apparel (starting at $8.68; amazon.com)

Haggar apparel

Haggar apparel

PHOTO:
Amazon

Haggar, known for its menswear, is seriously discounting its line of men’s pants, with up to 65% shaved off some of its most popular pairs, from jeans to dress pants and khakis.

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Under Armour (starting at $7.88; amazon.com)

Under Armour

Under Armour

PHOTO:
Amazon

The performance brand is discounting tons of its goods — leggings, hoodies, socks, T-shirts — this Black Friday, with up to 25% off. That means you can now get its top-rated leggings (for men and women) for just around $20 and backpacks and workout bags now for around $30.

For more great deals, check out CNN Coupons.

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Drake sides with The Weeknd, says Grammys ‘may no longer matter’

The rapper took to social media to complain about it.”I think we should stop allowing ourselves to be shocked every year by the disconnect between impactful music and these awards and just accept that what once was the highest form of recognition may no longer matter to the artists that exist now and the ones…

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The rapper took to social media to complain about it.”I think we should stop allowing ourselves to be shocked every year by the disconnect between impactful music and these awards and just accept that what once was the highest form of recognition may no longer matter to the artists that exist now and the ones that come after,” Drake wrote on his Instagram stories. “It’s like a relative you keep expecting to fix up but they just can’t change their ways.”Despite the commercial and critical success of The Weeknd’s “After Hours” album, and many industry observers considered his single, “Blinding Lights,” a frontrunner for song of the year, he did not receive Grammy nods.Drake wrote that he, too, had thought that The Weeknd “was a lock for either album or song of the year along with countless other reasonable assumptions and it just never goes that way.””This is a great time for somebody to start something new that we can build up over time and pass on to the generations to come,” Drake said.After the nominations were announced on Tuesday, The Weeknd took to Twitter.”The Grammys remain corrupt. You owe me, my fans and the industry transparency,” he wrote.Harvey Mason Jr., the Recording Academy’s chair and interim president/CEO, said in a statement to CNN “We understand that The Weeknd is disappointed at not being nominated.””I was surprised and can empathize with what he’s feeling. His music this year was excellent, and his contributions to the music community and broader world are worthy of everyone’s admiration,” the statement continued. “We were thrilled when we found out he would be performing at the upcoming Super Bowl and we would have loved to have him also perform on the GRAMMY stage the weekend before. Unfortunately, every year, there are fewer nominations than the number of deserving artists.”For years The Recording Academy has been the target of criticism that it is out of step with the preferences of consumers and has failed to recognize women and artists of color equally.Nicki Minaj appeared to echo that latter point when she tweeted after the nominations “Never forget the Grammys didn’t give me my best new artist award when I had 7 songs simultaneously charting on billboard & bigger first week than any female rapper in the last decade- went on to inspire a generation. They gave it to the white man Bon Iver.”Singer Teyana Taylor tweeted that there were no female nominees in the best R&B album category.Justin Bieber, who racked up nominations in both the pop and country categories, complained that he should be vying for R&B awards.”To the Grammys I am flattered to be acknowledged and appreciated for my artistry,” he wrote in a statement posted on his verified Instagram account. “I am very meticulous and intentional about my music. With that being said, I set out to make an R&B album. Changes was, and is, an R&B album. It is not being acknowledged as an R&B album which is very strange to me.”

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Letter from Paris: French Universalism Shows its Limitations in the Art World—and Beyond

As the world came to a halt in the spring, I was reading two books simultaneously: How We Became Posthuman, a seminal work from 1999 by N. Katherine Hayles about transformation in the digital age, and Achille Mbembe’s Brutalisme, a philosophical volume on our tumultuous times that had just been published a few weeks prior.…

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As the world came to a halt in the spring, I was reading two books simultaneously: How We Became Posthuman, a seminal work from 1999 by N. Katherine Hayles about transformation in the digital age, and Achille Mbembe’s Brutalisme, a philosophical volume on our tumultuous times that had just been published a few weeks prior. I opened both looking for material to back up some points in an essay I was writing. But I quickly realized that, taken together, they pointed to something crucial to an understanding of the workings of French institutions and how, in the art world, those institutions are positioning themselves in terms of exclusion, inclusion, and secession.

As France went into lockdown and resorted to a frenetic consumption of news, specific themes started to surface around questions related to what it means to be human and the long-debated concept of French universalism. Handed down through history as a remnant of the 1789 Revolution, French universalism is based on a belief that to be treated equal and be free, citizens should surrender their personal affiliations and that no group should be given special treatment. In the 1990s, however, universalism’s ideal of an abstract, essentialized citizen with no particularities collided with real bodies as women, queer activists, and immigrants started to organize, with support from multiculturalist politics gaining ground in Europe.
While the dominant political discourse in France remains conditioned by mutations of a universalist heritage, the pandemic shined light on a notable divide. In one camp were idealists hoping that a collective vulnerability to a shared, natural threat would revive the hope of building a world in common. In the other were more pragmatic observers who couldn’t help but notice how contamination rates among stigmatized minorities mirrored the results of years of politics based on an “indifference to difference.” (While statistics based on race, ethnicity, or gender remain forbidden in France, contamination rates in suburbs populated by a majority of residents of foreign origin with higher unemployment rates were soaring.)
In the context of the first camp, Hayles’s study of the posthuman can be read as an attempt to salvage a “critical universalist” position by foregrounding how the human stands in relation to other species and artificial agents. In April, Hayles herself published an essay, “Novel Corona: Posthuman Virus,” stressing “the commonalities that all humans share with one another, notwithstanding all the ethnic, racial, geopolitical, and other differences that exist between us.”

But, as reflected by the second camp, humans are mnemonic beings who reflect past and present living conditions, with vulnerabilities that affect some more than others. As Mbembe prophetically wrote in Brutalisme, humanity’s essence has been transformed and its existence threatened as a result of historically imposed Western dichotomies (nature/culture, subject/object, human/nonhuman) that erased ancestral African cosmogonies rooted in free-flowing and ever-reconfiguring flux.

Achille Mbembe with his award-winning book Critique of Black Reason (2015).
Matthias Balk/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Image.

During lockdown, Brutalisme—a dense and sinuous reconsideration of contemporary theories about technology, identity, and ecology—became one of the most-read books in France. While Mbembe was already a prominent public intellectual there (he graduated from the Sorbonne and the Paris Institute of Political Studies, and has frequently written for national newspapers), the book’s popularity can be pinned to a more specific cause. In April, Mbembe published a piece at the francophone website aoc.media (the acronym for “Analyse Opinion Critique”) that spread quickly as other publications shared extracts and responses translated in several languages.
The highly freighted term “universal” appeared in the article’s title, “The Universal Right to Breathe”—a gesture that was hard not to notice in a political context where the French president was rekindling the old debate over universalism by proclaiming “fighting separatism” as his priority. Before this moment, the Cameroon-born Mbembe had been known mostly for his analysis of contemporary power relations, widening the scope of “biopower” through his pivotal concept of “necropolitics,” or the annihilation of those considered enemies of the state. Sovereignty, he explained, equals the power to decide who lives and who doesn’t, as exemplified by modern states built on slavery, apartheid, and colonization—a power that, in recent times, has been extended on a planetary scale to include supranational entities such as corporations.
In such a context, “separatism” appears above all a vital reaction to the peril of death imposed on those treated, in Mbembe’s words, as “mere waste.” And the pandemic reveals political universalism as the material, structural construction of power that it is, regardless of whether citizens adhere to it or not. It is a kind of power that operates through what Mbembe describes as “fracturing and fissuring” and “expelling organic matter.” When he calls for a “universal right to breathe,” he simultaneously exposes how universalism has normalized its opposite.
In the institutional art world, metaphors of life and death prevail, and while most spaces survived the first phase of lockdown, those that did not offer a striking example of the unevenly shared “right to breathe.”

Above, a literary event organized by the publishing house Présence Africaine at La Colonie, Paris, October 2019.
Photo Alix Hugonnier.

In the middle of March, a multi–disciplinary space founded in 2016 by artist Kader Attia and restaurateur Zico Selloum to host exhibitions, critical debates, book releases, film screenings, concerts, and DJ sets announced that it was closing due to a funding deficit. Located near Gare de l’Est in central Paris, La Colonie (written so as to connote an anti-colony) was financed by income from a bar in the space, a model similar to the one Attia used in the early 2000s, when he financed much of his work through his bar Le Café Chéri(e).
Offering free entrance, La Colonie became a home for unheard ideas and, contrary to state-run institutions, did not impose translation on non-francophone voices. It played a major part in making decolonial thought accessible to a larger public by appealing to antiracist, militant circles as well as scholars and thinkers, threading together the two groups by hosting the likes of writer Françoise Vergès, artist and editor Pascale Obolo, philosopher Seloua Luste Boulbina, and economist Felwine Sarr.
When Attia launched a crowdfunding campaign to reopen the space elsewhere, Olivier Marboeuf, an artist, writer, and editor, wrote him a letter on Facebook stressing how they both create “organisms, collective bodies that grow, live and die” in the act of building “not monuments, but lifeforms.” In 2004, Marboeuf founded Espace Khiasma, a similar space dedicated to producing and exhibiting artists’ films until it was forced to close for financial reasons in 2018.
In an interview he was generous enough to grant me when Espace Khiasma was still running, Marboeuf explained how the “inequality, humiliation, and domination [is] disguised by the neutral figure of the citizen” and how universalist institutions have been preventing the emergence of a racialized intellectual elite. Regarding Khiasma, he emphasized how the space reflected the need for excluded communities to invent their own tools—as he himself had by refusing to become a curator in existing state-run institutions. “We don’t need them to validate what we create,” he said. “The [goal] is not to be against those big institutions, but not to depend on them anymore.”
Since early 2019, Khiasma’s former space has hosted new initiatives led by a collective structure of volunteers and various associations that gather different projects and undertakings. The name given to this experimental “house for all” is A Place to Breathe [Un Lieu pour respirer]. Marboeuf says such spaces mark “a new form of presence through flight.” The act of organizing independent, autonomous, and horizontally interconnected spaces that grow like mangroves puts different forms and practices on the agenda while transcending traditional cultural programs and politics.

Assa Traoré at a demonstration in memory of her brother Adama, July 2020.
Sipa via AP Images.

Even as the former Khiasma space continued to be A Place to Breathe, the “post-Covid-19” period that Mbembe wrote about in early April was tragically followed by what he called another “premature cessation of breathing.” In France, the wave of anger that spanned the world after the killing of George Floyd in America found its voice through Assa Traoré, who since her brother’s death in police custody in 2016 has managed to turn her advocacy group, Justice for Adama, into a widespread social movement and herself into an important political figure.
The protests in support of Black Lives Matter shined new light on questions of equality—something that riots in France in 2005 in response to the fatal electrocution of two teenage boys fleeing the police had not, or at least not to the same degree. In July, the New York Times published an in-depth article under the headline “A Racial Awakening in France, Where Race Is a Taboo Topic.” The author, Norimitsu Onishi, interviewed several key intellectuals and public figures—from Maboula Soumahoro and Binetou Sylla to Rhoda Tchokokam and Rokhaya Diallo—who represent a younger generation bringing debate over race to the fore.
Brick-and-mortar spaces like A Place To Breathe have recently been joined by virtual spaces working toward a shared cause. In March, Seumboy Vrainom :€, an artist and self-described “digital shaman apprentice,” put up on Instagram and YouTube the first video in what he called his Histoires Crépues (“frizzy histories”), a series meant to explore “our shared colonial history” as “complex and frizzy” as his hair. Each video explains a concept or event through cross-reading sources and references accessible free online; collectively, the videos will eventually form a database.

Screengrab of Seumboy Vrainom :€’s Instagram page.
Instagram/seumboy.

In French schools, Seumboy Vrainom :€ recalled, the only education he had about racism referred to American history, as though French and European colonization had never happened. In Histoires Crépues he analyzes such topics as Africa’s debt, police violence, and racist monuments, showing how French colonial history still shapes society—all while avoiding American and African-American concepts as sole references.
Another example of an alternative digital space is Qalqalah قلقلة, a curatorial platform founded by independent curators Virginie Bobin and Victorine Grataloup in reaction to “a political and intellectual context and media coverage marked by reactionary, authoritarian, and discriminatory speeches and acts.” Dedicated to the production, translation, and circulation of artistic, theoretical, and literary research in French, Arabic, and English, the site’s online editorial space launched in March with the mission, as expressed by writer and theorist Sarah Rifky, to expand beyond “monolingual activists.”
Initiatives of the sort show how a younger generation continues to move beyond universalism by encouraging alternative, collective discourse and by refusing to surrender to total legibility. The pandemic allowed nimble experimentation to take place, as state-run institutions struggled to adapt.
It has also made only more clear the importance of Mbembe’s “universal right to breathe.” The global crisis, he writes, should be an opportunity to “reclaim the lungs of our world.” To do so, the voices of those already suffocating should be those we listen to more and more. For all of us, this is vital if we are to survive.
A version of this article appears in the Winter 2021 issue of ARTnews, under the title “Breathe In, Breathe Out.”

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