Photo of Prof. Denise Ferreira da Silva, in black dress against white wall
Denise Ferreira da Silva

The Climate Change, Decolonization, and Global Blackness Lab (CCDGB) at the John Hope Franklin Humanities Institute will host artist and philosopher Denise Ferreira da Silva for a short residency from February 8 to 16, 2024. This visit is supported by the Schiff Family Dean of Humanities and the Arts.

Ferreira da Silva is Samuel Rudin Professor in the Humanities at the Department of Spanish and Portuguese Languages and Literatures at New York University. Her artistic and academic work reflects and speculates on themes and questions crucial to contemporary philosophy, aesthetics, political theory, black thought, feminist thought, and historical materialism.

She is the author of Toward a Global Idea of Race (University of Minnesota Press, 2007), The Impagavel Divide (Workshop of Political Imagination and Living Commons, 2019), Unpayable Debt (Stenberg / MIT Press, 2022) and co-editor (with Paula Chakravartty) of Race, Empire, and the Crisis of the Subprime (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2013). She also wrote and created for publications for major art events (Liverpool Biennale, 2017; São Paulo Biennale, 2016, Venice Biennale, 2017 and Documenta 14, São Paulo Biennale, 2023) and published in art spaces such as Canadian Art, Texte Zur Kunst and E-Flux.

The feature event of the residency (February 8, 6-8pm, Richard White Auditorium) will be a screening of two film works, both collaborations between Prof. Ferreira da Silva and Arjuna Neuman, followed by a public conversation. Please see full details below. She will also lead two reading group discussions with CCDGB and other interested faculty and students.

This residency grows out of Prof. Ferreira da Silva’s deep ongoing collaboration with the CCDGB. Previously, she delivered the CCDGB inaugural public lecture in 2022 (video) and co-presented with the Otolith Group during their September 2023 visit to the Lab and to Duke at large.


Event flyer for Ferreira da Silva screening & conversation
Background image: still from Soot Breath//Corpus Infinitum

Denise Ferreira da Silva with Shambhavi Kaul and Walter Mignolo: Screening and Conversation

Richard White Lecture Hall
Duke University, East Campus
Thursday, February 8th, 2024

The Franklin Humanities Institute’s Climate Change, Decolonization, and Global Blackness Lab presents a screening of two film works by Denise Ferreira da Silva and Arjuna Neuman, 4 Waters—Deep Implicancy (2018, 30 min) and Soot Breath//Corpus Infinitum (2020, 40 min). The screening will be followed by a staged conversation with Ferreira da Silva, Shambhavi Kaul (Duke University), and Walter Mignolo (Duke University).

Arjuna Neuman and Denise Ferreira da Silva’s collaboration includes the film Serpent Rain (2016), 4 Waters-Deep Implicancy (2018), Soot Breath//Corpus Infinitum (2020). Their films have been exhibited at major art venues, such as the Pompidou Center (Paris), Whitechapel Gallery, The 56th Venice Biennale, The Haus Der Kulturen Der Welt (Berlin), Centre for Contemporary Art (Glasgow), Julia Stoschek Collection (Dusseldorf), Arnhem Museum (Netherland), and more. Their films have been screened at Berlinale Forum Expanded, Images Festival Toronto, Doclisboa, Pravo Lujdski and more. They were the 2021 feature artists at the Flaherty Seminar and their work is held in the Belkin Museum Collection. In 2023, they are showing the ensemble of their films at the MACBA (Barcelona) and they will premiere their new film Ancestral Clouds, Ancestral Ghosts  in October at the Kunsthalle Wien.

4 Waters – Deep Implicancy is as much a film project and an experiment in collaboration as it is a set of fragments drawn from a reimagined cosmos.

These fragments, sounds, and stories help us convey the experiential moment of entanglement, or rather, they describe an entangled moment prior to separation, what we call “Deep Implicancy.”

One such story we follow is water, both as it phases transitions with and into other matters including life, but also as it combines disparate geographies, bodies of / in water, and four islands within them – Lesvos, Haiti, Marshall Islands, Tiwi.

Through a series of experimental migrations and elemental crossings we begin to question the form of the universal human, its calcified and exceptional origins, and in particular its ethical program.

Wandering and wondering through a transformative figure of justice, we ask, what if our image of the world recalled phase instead of measure? And what becomes of ethics if we let go of value?

Soot Breath // Corpus Infinitum is a film dedicated to tenderness. It reproduces a radical sensibility we learned from listening to the blues, from listening to skin, to heat, and from listening to echoes, listening itself.

We ask, could tenderness dissolve total violence? Could tears displace total extraction?

Towards this we reimagine the human and its subject-formation away from predatory desire and lethal abstraction, away from the mind and eyes and noble senses, away from total extraction and its articulations as ethnography, border regimes, slavery, sexual abuse, trade and mining.

Instead we turn to skin, resonance, and tenderness as the raw material of our reimagined earthy sensibility. Remembering that to be tender is to soften like supple grass, and to attend to is to care for, to serve. Serving, we know is the opposite of slavery just as violence dissolves with care.