Elemental Study Room
The Elemental Study Room – the place for studying the elemental, elementally and the elements – is both an invitation and an enactment of a manner of attending to what exists (actually, potentially, and virtually) that welcomes it all and at once. Astrology, Quantum Field Theory, Particle Physics, Octavia E. Butler, Hortense Spillers, Tarot, Saidiya Hartman, Fred Moten, Stefano Harney, Fred Moten & Stefano Harney, Karen Barad, Dark Matter, the oracle, Reiki – this is a partial list of those and that with which I think, experiment, wonder & wander.
This Elemental Study Room, in addition to items from my practice, also gathers images, words, and objects that re/de/compose the exhibition, the Shedhalle, and each and every work in it. As such, it exists as one of the works and as one with the works in this exhibition.
Anyone, everyone, who happen to come across, walk by the Elemental Study Room is welcome to stop by this place, remember or just try not to forget the current and past violence and violations that renders this global health crisis deadlier to some rather than others. And, while doing so, just do also have in mind the question animating my practice: What if instead of experience and identity, existence and implicancy were …?
Elemental, as a descriptor, has been key in the experiments in re/de/composing (imaging/reading) that are central to my artistic practice; in both the film works with Arjuna Neuman and the reading practice, in collaboration with Valentina Desideri. As a descriptor for what exists, the elemental refers to the what and the how, that is, to the fact that any existing thing is but a re/de/composition, which can be read as a referent of the classic elements (water, air, fire, earth).
Study is practice; as such, it requires the taking of time, the giving time, and the making of time; to study is to demote time, to strip off its transcendent and interior airs; study is with and about at the same time. To study is to forget about time, to ignore it and, in doing so, even if for a moment, that moment, it is to end time.
Room is the name I find appropriate to a place designed for observation, experimentation, and contemplation. To study as a practice – and not an obligation or a means to an end — it necessarily and hopelessly collaborative and collective. It gathers images (videos and photos), words, sounds, and objects, which has been composed in experiments on the question of existence and implicancy.
Elemental Study Room names this composition of this space as well as any other place, anywhere, any time, as long as that there/then gathers material, tools, and techniques I have chosen or designed because of their capacity to aid in experiments on a simple question: What if instead of experience and identity, existence and implicancy focused and guided premises for statements about as well as descriptions and considerations of what happens and exists?
Universal, as a concept, distinguishes modern thinking relies on the ontological and epistemological operations of the notions of experience and identity, respectively. Both support the distinctions that allow for conceiving of humans in their specificity, and the distinctions that separate that from everything else and also establishes unsurpassable separations among them. Existence and implicancy, in particular when approached elementally inspire images, descriptions, and propositions that might just undermine the tools and mechanisms through which the universal has sustained the unrelenting violations state capital inflicts on the planet and everything/everyone that exists on it.
Denise Ferreira da Silva (Rio de Janeiro & Vancouver) practice involves working with words, images, and sounds. A founding member of EhChO.org, presently, she is Professor and Director of the Social Justice Institute-GRSJ at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver (Canada) and Adjunct Professor of Curatorial Practice at Monash University Art, Design & Architecture, Melbourne (Australia). Her artwork include the films Serpent Rain (2016), 4Waters (2018) in collaboration with Arjuna Neuman, and Poethical Readings and Sensing Salon, in collaboration with Valentina Desideri. She is the author of Toward a Global Idea of Race (2007), a Divida Impagavel (2019), and Unpayable Debt (2020) and co-editor of Race, Empire, and the Crisis of the Subprime (2013).