Artist of the main project
Artist of the main project

Arjuna Neuman

The Ural branch of the Pushkin Museum features the artwork

Soot Breath / Corpus Infinitum (2020)

In collaboration with Denise Ferreira da Silva. Film, 40′. Commissioned by Center for Contemporary Arts, Glasgow. Courtesy of the artist

Soot Breath / Corpus Infinitum is a film dedicated to tenderness. It reproduces a radical sensibility we learned from listening to the blues, from listening to skin, to heat, and from listening to echoes, listening itself.

We ask, could tenderness dissolve total violence? Could tears displace total extraction?

Towards this we reimagine 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 we turn to skin, resonance, and tenderness as the raw material of our reimagined earthy sensibility. Remembering that to be tender is to soften like supple grass, and to attend to is to care for, to serve. Serving, we know is the opposite of slavery just as violence dissolves with care.” (Arjuna Neuman & Denise Ferreria da Silva)

The work continues the authors’ interest in reimagining knowledge and existence without the limits of European and Colonial constructions of the human. Neuman and Ferreira da Silva study across disciplines, calling quantum mechanics to polyrhythms, from Tarkovsky to Hype Williams, from heat to Anaximander, in order to speculate how to exist otherwise as humans in the world. Their new film explores the construction of subjectivity — how social subjects, identities and categories are formed and recreated in society — in particular, how these processes have been designed as sovereign and interior: independent from the body so to speak.

Soot Breath gathers a variety of examples where subjectivity is unbound from the mind alone, but rebound to the world. Following the element of earth through its many facets, groundings, afterlifes and forms, the film scales between the historical/cultural, the organic, the quantum and the cosmic. This research aims to question how structures of power (colonial, capital, cis-hetero patriarchal) perpetuate categorization and difference to break material ties to other humans, more-than-humans and deeper implicated bonds with our planet and beyond. In particular, it focuses how such an interior subjectivity has been exploited towards unending racial violence.

Arjuna Neuman was born an airplane, that’s why he has two passports. He is an artist, filmmaker, and writer.

With recent presentations at CCA (Glasgow); Centre Pompidou (Paris); Manifesta 10 (Marseille); Showroom Gallery (London); TPW Gallery (Toronto); Forum Expanded, Berlin Berlinale; Jameel Art Centre (Dubai); 10th Berlin Biennial; Serpentine, London X Qalandia Biennial, Palestine; Gasworks (London); Bold Tendencies (London); Or Gallery (Vancouver); Whitechapel Gallery (London); Istanbul Modern; MAAT and Docslisboa (Portugal); 13th Sharjah Biennial (UAE); Bergen Assembly (Norway); NTU Centre for Contemporary Art (Singapore); the 56th Venice Biennale and SuperCommunity; Industry of Light (London); the Haus Der Kulturen der Welt (Berlin); Ashkal Alwan and the Beirut Art Centre (Lebanon); Le Gaite Lyric (Paris); the Canadian Centre for Architecture; and the Rat School of Art (Seoul) amongst others.

As a writer he has published essays in Relief Press, Into the Pines Press, The Journal for New Writing, VIA Magazine, Concord, Art Voices, Flaunt, LEAP, Hearings, and e-flux.

Arjuna Neuman