Join us for a thought-provoking conversation with writer and perfumer Tanaïs and poet Divya Victor moderated by journalist Anjali Kamat. Both artists are featured in our current exhibition, City of Faith: Religion, Activism, and Urban Space. Divya and Tanaïs’s writings both explore themes of religion and race. Divya’s CURB focuses on violence against and the religious profiling of South Asian Americans in public spaces, while Tanaïs’s In Sensorium explores how fragrance has been used in caste systems and colonial projects as a marker of uncleanliness and difference.
Across mediums, their works engage with the concept of “Ambient Faith,” which anthropologist Matthew Engelke defines as the use of subtle sounds, smells, tastes, or visual cues by religious groups to take up space without appearing to impose religion on the public sphere. The speakers’ overlapping interests and engagement with this concept will make this an invigorating exchange not to be missed.
6:00pm: Museum doors open, City of Faith exhibition open for viewing (second floor). Please note: no other Museum exhibitions will be open.
6:30pm: Conversation begins in Marble Court (second floor).
7:40pm: Audience Q & A
8:00pm: Program ends, City of Faith reopens for viewing.
8:30pm: Museum closes.
Co-presented by Asian American Writers Workshop (AAWW).
About the Speakers
Tanaïs is the author of In Sensorium: Notes for My People, winner of the 2022 Kirkus Prize for Nonfiction, and the critically acclaimed novel Bright Lines, which was a finalist for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize, the Edmund White Debut Fiction Award, and the Brooklyn Eagles Literary Prize. Featured in Vogue, Elle, Harper’s Bazaar, The Cut, The Nation for their innovative scents and stories, they work as an independent perfumer and owner of a fragrance, beauty and design studio TANAÏS, based in New York City. Currently, they are working on a novel.
Divya Victor is the author of CURB from Nightboat Books. CURB is the winner of the 2022 PEN America Open Book Award and the winner of the 2022 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award. It was also a finalist for the 2022 CLMP Firecracker Award (Poetry). She is also the author of KITH (Fence Books/ Book*hug); Scheingleichheit: Drei Essays (Merve Verlag, trans. Lena Schmidt); NATURAL SUBJECTS (Trembling Pillow), UNSUB (Insert Blanc), THINGS TO DO WITH YOUR MOUTH (Les Figues). Her work has been collected in numerous venues, including BOMB, the New Museum’s The Animated Reader, Crux: Journal of Conceptual Writing, The Best American Experimental Writing, POETRY, The Yale Review, American Poetry Review, and boundary2. Her work has been translated into French, German, Spanish, and Czech. She has been a Mark Diamond Research Fellow at the U.S Holocaust Memorial Museum, a Riverrun Fellow at the Archive for New Poetry at University of California San Diego, and a Writer in Residence at the Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibition (L.A.C.E.). Her work has been performed or installed at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MoCA) Los Angeles, The National Gallery of Singapore, the Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibition (L.A.C.E.) and the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). Victor has been an editor at Jacket2 (U.S.), Ethos Books (Singapore), Invisible Publishing (Canada) and Book*hug Press (Canada). She is currently an Associate Professor of English and Writing at Michigan State University, where she is the Director of the Creative Writing Program.
Anjali Kamat (moderator) is a documentary filmmaker, writer, and investigative journalist. A fellow at Type Media Center, she is working on a feature documentary and reporting project on rightwing nationalism in India. She has reported from around the world as a correspondent for Al Jazeera’s Fault Lines, winning a Peabody, an RFK Journalism award, and four Emmy nominations. Her investigation of the Trump Organization’s business dealings in India, in partnership with the Wayne Barrett Project at Type Investigations, for the New Republic and the Trump, Inc. podcast on WNYC and ProPublica won a duPont-Columbia award and a Front Page award from the Newswomen’s Club of New York. She’s been a senior reporter at Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting and WNYC and got her start in journalism as a producer and correspondent for Democracy Now!
Anjali grew up in Chennai, India and studied history at Pomona College and Arabic at the American University of Cairo. She has a post-graduate diploma from the Asian College of Journalism and an MA in Near Eastern Studies from New York University. She was the 2017-18 Belle Zeller Visiting Professor of Public Policy at Brooklyn College.