The Showroom

Object Positions Lecture 3 | Reading the Dead: Denise Ferreria da Silva in conversation with Shela Sheikh

Thursday 25 May
Free, no booking required


"'For everyone, everything,’ say our dead. Until it is so, there will be nothing for us." - Zapatistas’ Second declaration – June 1994
Reading the Dead as a procedure frames the anti-colonial project as a confrontation with Global Capital, and its ethical imperative as the return of the total value yield by the productive capacity of native lands and slave bodies. Ferreria da Silva’s source of inspiration are the Zapatistas as well as other contemporary indigenous and rural (peasant, fishermen/women movements) protests, in Latin America and elsewhere, to the return to economic development projects based on mega-agricultural projects and natural resource exploitation.
When designing and deploying this imaging strategy Ferreria da Silva targets the ontoepistemological devices, which in-form existing political discourses. More specifically, this experiment seeks to expose and dissolve some of the critical concepts, categories, and formulations – which immediately nullify past, present, and future juridical gains resulting from these recent waves of protest – precisely because the prevailing left discourse lacks the capacity to comprehend the Dead as a political subject.

Join us as Ferreria da Silva presents her thinking on how reading the dead can be imagined and framed as an anti-colonial procedure to confront global capital. This will be followed with Shela Sheikh sharing her own thoughts on this approach.

Denise Ferreira da Silva, PhD is the Director of The Social Justice Institute (GRSJ) at the University of British Columbia. She is also a Visiting Professor of Law at Birkbeck-University of London (UK) and Adjunct Professor of Curatorial Practice at MADA-Monash University (Australia). Her academic writings and artistic practice address the ethical questions of the global present and target the metaphysical and onto-epistemological dimensions of modern thought. Academic publications include Toward a Global Idea of Race (University of Minnesota Press, 2007) and the edited volume Race, Empire, and The Crisis of the Subprime (with Paula Chakravartty, Johns Hopkins University Press, 2013).  She has written for publications of the 2016 Liverpool and Sao Paulo Biennials  as well as for the 2017  Documenta 14 – Reader and Venice Biennale. Her artistic work includes collaborations, such as the films Serpent Rain (with Arjuna Neuman), 2016  and From Left to Night (with Wendelien van Oldenborgh), 2014 and the play Return of the Vanished Peasant (with Rosalind Martin)  as well as  events and texts which are part of her Poethical Readings practice (with Valentina Desideri). She was an advisor to Natasha Ginwala, curator of the Contour 8 Biennale (Mechelen, 2017).

Shela Sheikh is Lecturer at the Centre for Cultural Studies, Goldsmiths, University of London, where she convenes the MA Postcolonial Culture and Global Policy. Prior to this she was Research Fellow and Publications Coordinator on the ERC-funded “Forensic Architecture” project based in the Centre for Research Architecture. She is currently working on a monograph about the phenomenon of the “martyr video-testimony” and its cultural representation, read primarily through the lens of deconstruction; and a multi-platform collaborative research project around colonialism, botany and the politics of planting. Within the context of the latter, she is co-editing, with Ros Gray, a special issue of Third Text entitled “The Wretched Earth: Botanical Conflicts and Artistic Interventions” (Spring 2018). 

This is the third lecture in the Object Positions lecture series led by curatorial fellow Teresa Cisneros. Object Positions is a year long programme of conversations, workshops, research and events exploring decolonial processes, colonial administrations and cultural equity.

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