Soot Breath // Corpus Infinitum 2021
digital video, 40’
editing and script: Denise Ferreira Da Silva
Courtesy of the artists
Denise Ferreira da Silva and Arjuna Neuman’s third collaborative film project, Soot Breath // Corpus Infinitum takes as its premise the idea that, together, every human and non-human existence form a body without limits. 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 places significant in the biographies of the artists from Brazil to Indonesia, to major infrastructure that disintegrates in particles of soot. Porous surfaces of bodies touch each other, evoking a continuous vision the organic, the quantum and the cosmic. Elaborating an important critique of anthropology, the film reflects on the displacement of peoples, ideas and matter over the last century. It draws together the fibres of the torn fabric of the spiritual and material dimensions of a vibrating world where everything is implicated in everything else, intimately connected.
In Soot Breath // Corpus Infinitum we create connections between forced displacement, slavery, and political violence across the twentieth century – processes of extraction from the earth but also from people. This reflects two things: our concerns as thinkers and artists and at the same time our individual trajectory and that of our families. We comment on forces that approach nature and the world as something to mould and from which to extract matter. So the film is conceived as contributing to the rethinking of nature and of subject positions in our current system that are formed around needs. Something that is important in our work is a kind of speculation, of imagining and reimagining how things can be otherwise. We think about nature, matter, subjectivity, all of these questions come up in a conversation in each film and in our work.