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CalArts Names Writer and Artist Denise Ferreira da Silva its 2024 Theorist in Residence

CalArts Names Writer and Artist Denise Ferreira da Silva its 2024 Theorist in Residence

Denise Ferreira da Silva. Photo: Miquel Coll.

Valencia, Calif. (Jan. 11, 2024) – California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) is pleased to announce world-renowned writer and artist Denise Ferreira da Silva as its 2024 Theorist in Residence.

Organized by the MA Aesthetics and Politics Program in the CalArts School of Critical Studies, the Theorist in Residence initiative invites theorists focusing on media, urban, or global studies to spend up to two weeks at CalArts to teach workshops, faculty seminars, and give a public lecture.

Ferreira da Silva is the Samuel Rudin Professor in the Humanities at the Department of Spanish and Portuguese Languages and Literatures, New York University. 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), Ancestral Claims/Ancestral Clouds (2023) with Arjuna Neuman and Poethical Readings and Sensing Salon, with Valentina Desideri.

On Wednesday and Thursday, Jan. 17 and 18, Ferreira da Silva will meet with CalArts students and faculty. During the evening of Jan. 17, she will present a public lecture at CalArts’ Langley Hall.

During her talk, titled A Story of Us: Attention, Reflection, and Extraction in Tales of the End(s) of the Human, Ferreira da Silva will give an account of the ethical and aesthetical dimensions of electronically-mediated existence, which seems fully permeated by and thoroughly configured through the apparatus that enables global capital to profit from the extraction of attention. A close reading of episodes of the acclaimed British series Black Mirror shows how, in this global moment, raciality facilitates capital accumulation both economically and ethically, working through the figures of humanity and subjectivity as these play out in the series’ dystopian tales. 

On Saturday, Jan. 20, REDCAT will present a screening of Soot Breath / Corpus Infinitum, Ferreira da Silva’s collaboration with filmmaker and CalArts alum Arjuna Neuman, followed by a conversation with both artists moderated by Janet Sarbanes, Acting Director, CalArts MA Aesthetics and Politics.

Soot Breath / Corpus Infinitum—a film dedicated to tenderness—is the third collaboration between Ferreira da Silva and 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.


Denise Ferreira da Silva
CalArts Theorist in Residence Public Lecture
A Story of Us: Attention, Reflection, and Extraction in Tales of the End(s) of the Human

Wednesday, Jan. 17 at 6 p.m. 
Langley Theater, CalArts
24700 McBean Parkway, Valencia, Calif. 91355

Denise Ferreira da Silva and Arjuna Neuman
Soot Breath / Corpus Infinitum
Screening and Conversation, Moderated by Janet Sarbanes

Saturday, Jan. 20 at 8:30 p.m.
631 W 2nd St, Los Angeles, Calif. 90012


California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) has set the pace for educating professional artists since 1970. Offering rigorous undergraduate and graduate degree programs through six schools—Art, Critical Studies, Dance, Film/Video, Music, and Theater—CalArts has championed creative excellence, critical reflection, and the development of new forms and expressions. As successive generations of faculty and alumni have helped shape the landscape of contemporary arts, the Institute first envisioned by Walt Disney encompasses a vibrant, eclectic community with global reach, inviting experimentation, independent inquiry, and active collaboration and exchange among artists, artistic disciplines, and cultural traditions.

CalArts’ School of Critical Studies brings together internationally recognized writers, poets, scholars, and thinkers working in both new and traditional forms across a wide variety of disciplines, extending from narrative fiction, performance, and multimedia to cultural criticism and political theory. The school offers two graduate programs: the Master of Fine Arts Creative Writing Program and the Master of Arts Aesthetics and Politics Program. In both programs, the expertise of Institute faculty is complemented with an extensive series of readings, lectures, workshops, and longer-term residencies by a diverse range of visiting writers, theorists, and artists.

Roy and Edna Disney CalArts Theater (REDCAT)CalArts' downtown center for contemporary arts, is a multidisciplinary center for innovative visual, performing, and media arts founded by CalArts in the Walt Disney Concert Hall complex in downtown Los Angeles. Through performances, exhibitions, screenings, and literary events, REDCAT introduces diverse audiences, students, and artists to the most influential developments in the arts from around the world, and gives artists in this region the creative support they need to achieve national and international stature. REDCAT continues the tradition of the California Institute of the Arts, its parent organization, by encouraging experimentation, discovery, and lively civic discourse. For current program and exhibition information, visit