Denise Ferreira da Silva & Arjuna Neuman, Ancestral Clouds Ancestral Claims, 2023 / Courtesy of the artists
Denise Ferreira da Silva and Arjuna Neuman: Ancestral Clouds Ancestral Claims
Oct 5, 2023 – Mar 17, 2024
Kunsthalle Wien Karlsplatz
Wien, Austria

Ancestral Clouds Ancestral Claims is Arjuna Neuman and Denise Ferreira da Silva’s first solo exhibition in Austria. It is centered around the presentation of a new work, coproduced by Kunsthalle Wien. The eponymous film is the latest part of a series called Elemental Cinema; each film in this series is dedicated to one of the four elements. In it, the artists have developed an approach that takes matter, material, and the elemental as its starting point – aspects which continue to be neglected and suppressed by the globally dominant order of thinking and being.

Ferreira da Silva and Neuman’s work undermines patterns of thinking about and relating to the Earth that have been shaped by European colonial modernity. They show that categories and distinctions that seem self-evident to us underlie a profoundly unequal, racist world. Ancestral Clouds Ancestral Claims turns the spotlight on the persistence, though in altered form, of this modern relation to the Earth in the history of neoliberalism and one of its defining early episodes: Chile under the Pinochet regime.

Neuman and Ferreira da Silva‘s work experiments with thinking and sensing simultaneously the various moments of material existence: the quantic, cosmic, organic/mechanic, historic/geologic. It often departs from a particular site, but then moves through and weaves together various times and places to show the planetary scope and historical depth of pressing geopolitical issues.

In Ancestral Clouds Ancestral Claims, the wind – air is the classical element taken up in this part of the series – travels from the Sahara to the Amazon and along the Pacific coast. Like the film’s off-screen voices, the composition and movement of material reality tells stories of migration and displacement, but also of another geography drawn by the winds.

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