35th Bienal de São Paulo
6 Set to 10 Dec 2023
Free Admission
35th Bienal de
São Paulo
6 Set to 10 Dec
Installation view of Denise Ferreira da Silva's work Metaphysics of the Elements during the 35th Bienal de São Paulo – choreographies of the impossible © Levi Fanan / Fundação Bienal de São Paulo

Denise Ferreira da Silva

A series of pyramids are scattered around the Bienal Pavilion, occasionally taking on new forms. Each is a tetrahedron, a Platonic solid representing fire and composing Denise Ferreira da Silva’s Metaphysics of the Elements − The Studio (2023).

Fire renews the exercise through which the artist aesthetically pursues a question recurrent in her artistic and philosophical work. In its capacity for radical transformation and in the resignification of fire when combined with other elements, this form-concept represents the inauguration of a here-now for the end of the world as we know it. I see Metaphysics of the Elements – The Studio as a crack that intends to silently engulf the pavilion, the park, and the city… Not in some dramatic, apocalyptic scene but as a space where collectivities and imaginations can emerge, vibrating at ethically similar frequencies.

The end reintroduces a dispute and a need to abandon the tools of modern thought, which works towards an end goal of domination, calling on thought processes that constantly perform the end, because they would never start from the assumption that there is an ontological separation between humankind and the other presences that inhabit the world.

When the structures of inseparability – the tetrahedrons – come together and transform into tables, benches, and grandstands, the studio acts as a platform for the emergence of meetings of Black, feminist intellectuals, artists, and social movements engaged in dismantling the anti-Black structures in the world, and in ecological demands for the right to life, land, and territory.

The piece is a continuation of a series of works through which Denise Ferreira da Silva responds to the project of dealing with the world through elemental thinking, encouraging a rapid and necessary shift in decolonization projects that, in the Brazilian context, are still trapped in imagining the correction of institutions, which has failed to keep collapse from continuing to shape this territory.

cíntia guedes
translated from Portuguese by georgia fleury reynolds

Denise Ferreira da Silva (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Lives between Vancouver, Canada, and Durham, NC, USA) is an artist, philosopher and  professor. Among her works are the films, Serpent Rain (2016), 4Waters-Deep Implicancy (2018), and Soot Breath/Corpus Infinitum (2020) in collaboration with Arjuna Neuman; the relational practices Poethical Readings and Sensing Salon in collaboration with Valentina Desideri; and the Opera Infinita series in collaboration with Anti Ribeiro and Jota Mombaça.