By way of an analytical practice described as “blacklight”, the artist and anti-racist theorist Denise Ferreira da Silva puts forward a new conception of aesthetics in confrontation with the colonial, racial and cisheteropatriarchal matrix inherent in Enlightenment and modern Western thought.
This lecture sees Ferreira da Silva examine contemporary works and artistic practices which call into question that which she calls the “transparent I”, a concept which references the modern subject hailing from the Enlightenment and customarily adopted in the position of spectator. Although this “transparent I” has been questioned by European continental philosophy and currents of feminist thought across the twentieth century, Ferreira da Silva highlights how these critiques have seldom regarded the determining role this concept plays in perpetuating racial subjugation; a refusal that remains overly moderate and insufficiently radical. The artistic practices Ferreira da Silva studies seek to be effective without reverting to a position of utterance that is already determined and signified.
The talk, moreover, shines a light on the new approach she posits: a reading of contemporary art carried out through the perspective of refusal and understood as a scene of confrontation which does not immediately revert to any theoretical-critical orientation. Yet her proposal of thought refutes the conventional notion of critique, formulating instead a possible position from which to move beyond the principles of continental philosophy. Ferreira da Silva presents a disruptive aesthetic-artistic practice with modern strategies of racial subjectivation
Denise Ferreira da Silva is an artist, lecturer and the director of The Institute for Gender, Race, Sexuality and Social Justice at the University of British Columbia. She is the author of A Dívida Impagável (Oficina da Imaginaçāo Política and Living Commons, 2019) and Toward a Global Idea of Race (University of Minnesota Press, 2007), and co-editor, with Paula Chakravartty, of Race, Empire, and the Crisis of the Subprime (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2013). Her articles have been published in journals such as Social Text; Theory, Culture & Society; philoSOPHIA: A Journal of Transcontinental Feminism; Griffith Law Review; Theory & Event and The Black Scholar, among others. Her artworks most notably include the films Serpent Rain (2016), 4 Waters: Deep Implicancy (2018) and Soot Breath / Corpus Infinitum (2020), all with Arjuna Neuman, in addition to artistic practices of reading and healing, for instance Poethical Readings and Sensing Salon, with Valentina Desideri. She lives and works in the traditional, ancestral and unceded territory of the hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ speaking Musqueam (xʷməθkʷəy̓əm) people.