Soot Breath / Corpus Infinitum

Denise Ferreira da Silva and Arjuna Neuman
Past event


Soot Breath / Corpus Infinitum—a film dedicated to tenderness—is the third collaboration between renowned writer and artist Denise Ferreira da Silva and filmmaker Arjuna Neuman. Interrogating empathy and violence, the film traces the transformations enacted on the natural world in the modern period, wherein living and non-living things have been treated as a standing reserve from which to extract resources. The element of earth is central as the camera moves from significant places in the biographies of the artists from Brazil to Indonesia, to major infrastructure that disintegrates in particles of soot. The film asks the questions Can tenderness dissolve total violence? Can tears displace total extraction? Reimagining 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, the film turns toward skin, resonance, and tenderness as the raw material of a reimagined earthy sensibility—remembering that to be tender is to soften like supple grass, and to attend to is to care for, to serve.


The program includes a post-screening talk with Arjuna Neuman and Denise Ferreira da Silva (CalArts’ MA Aesthetics and Politics Theorist in Residence), moderated by Janet Sarbanes.

about the artists

Denise Ferreira da Silva

Denise Ferreira da Silva is the Samuel Rudin Professor in the Humanities at New York University’s Department of Spanish and Portuguese Languages and Literatures. Her artistic and academic work reflects and speculates on questions crucial to contemporary philosophy, political theory, black thought, feminist thought, and historical materialism. She is the author of Unpayable Debt (2022), Dívida Impagável (2019), and Toward a Global Idea of Race (2007). Her articles have been published in journals such as: Social Text; Theory, Culture & Society; philoSOPHIA; Griffith Law Review; Theory & Event; and The Black Scholar, among others. Her artworks include the films: Serpent Rain (2016); 4 Waters: Deep Implicancy (2018); Soot Breath /Corpus Infinitum (2020) and Ancestral Claims/Ancestral Clouds (2023) with Arjuna Neuman; and Poethical Readings and Sensing Salon with Valentina Desideri. She is currently the Theorist in Residence for the CalArts MA Aesthetics and Politics.


Arjuna Neuman

Arjuna Neuman was born on an airplane. He is a filmmaker, artist, and writer. He has exhibited at Kunsthalle Wien, the Museum of Contemporary Art of Barcelona, Centre for Contemporary Arts Glasgow, and the Showroom London, among other venues. His videos and films have been widely shown, notably at Berlinale’s Forum Expanded, Doclisboa, and Images Festival, and are distributed by LUX London. Neuman is co-founder of, a database for migrants and refugees. He lives and works in Berlin, and is currently an artist in residence in Los Angeles at the Villa Aurora.