Denise Ferreira da Silva, Arjuna Neuman

Ancestral Clouds. Ancestral Claims.

Kunsthal Extra City marks its 100th exhibition milestone with 'Ancestral Clouds Ancestral Claims', an enthralling collection of poetic video installations by the internationally renowned artist duo Denise Ferreira da Silva and Arjuna Neuman. In 2016 they started collaborating on Elemental Cinema, a series of films that take our world’s basic elements – earth, air, water and fire – as starting points. Through it they question the dominant, Western, perspective on knowledge of both the human and the non-human. Their ethical-esthetical viewpoint focuses on systemic structures of colonialism, capitalism and imperial injustice. Making their Belgian debut, the artistic duo brings together several of their acclaimed film works such as Serpent Rain (2016) and 4 Waters – Deep Implicancy (2018).

Central in the exhibition is their latest and most ambitious film to date, Ancestral Clouds Ancestral Claims (2023). Shown in a large, site-specific installation, the film takes the invisible element air as its point of departure. At its centre are winds that travel from the Sahara to the Amazon and along the Pacific coast. However, most of the footage was shot in the Atacama Desert in Chile, home to some of the world’s largest mines for lithium, copper and silicon. The elevated, extremely dry terrain and clear air of the desert preserve history. You will find prehistoric stone drawings there, but also former labour camps from colonial times, which were later reactivated during Pinochet’s dictatorship to exploit opponents of the regime. ‘What’s hiding in plain sight?’, the artists constantly ask themselves.

Neuman and Ferreira da Silva experiment with both thinking and sensing the various moments of material existence: the quantic, cosmic, organic/mechanic, historic/geologic. They often depart from a particular site, but then weave together various times and places. Their holistic research into geopolitical issues thus acquires not only historical depth but also planetary scope.

Artists: Denise Ferreira da Silva, Arjuna Neuman

Also happening at Ancestral Clouds. Ancestral Claims.