• Curated Programme
  • Zoom Webinar
  • 2020

Department of Xenogenesis. In conversation with Denise Ferreira da Silva and Esi Eshun, Elaine Mitchener and Dante Micheaux

Kodwo Eshun and Anjalika Sagar of The Otolith Collective are pleased to announce the second movement in its ongoing pedagogical platform DXG: Department of Xenogenesis. The Otolith Collective in conversation with Denise Ferreira da Silva and Esi Eshun, Elaine Mitchener and Dante Micheaux Tuesday 30 June 2020 and Wednesday 1 July 2020. DXG is hosted and supported by LUX. Both online events are free although booking is advised. Six months into 2020, it is clear that the convergence of the COVID-19 pandemic with the eugenic calculations of the UK’s Conservative government has disproportionately exposed Afrodiasporic, Caribbean, Asian and Latinx peoples to the risk of infection and premature death. At the same time, the global uprisings against the lethal policing of Black and Brown peoples and the destruction of monuments that valorise slavery challenge the disregard for Black lives that characterises what Saidiya V. Hartman calls the afterlife of slavery in the United States with a sustained seriousness that has no precedence or parallel in the 21st Century. What happens, however, if we redirect Hartman’s account of the racial calculus that devalues Black existence towards the United Kingdom? To think the afterlife of slavery as a British project in a British context requires a confrontation with the implications of the policy of hostile environment announced in 2014 by Theresa May. It entails thinking the distress inflicted by the British state upon the Windrush generation in terms of an ongoing practice of environmental hostility. It necessitates an account of the occluded afterlife of British slavery as it accumulates around the compounded times and spaces of 1833, 2030, 1610, 1948 and beyond. There is a great desire, a yearning and a need in Britain today for a discourse that reckons with these questions in a vocabulary whose complexity exceeds the familiar tropes of journalistic reportage. A desire evident in the reading lists and reading groups that circulate online. The existence of DXG speaks to, and from this desire. The Otolith Group’s INFINITY minus Infinity, which premiered in November 2019 at the First Sharjah Architecture Triennale, sets itself the task of rendering the afterlife of slavery in the UK. It is an act, a gesture, a program and a proposal for aesthetic education in the Disunited Kingdom. From the perspective of the present, INFINITY minus Infinity’s evocation of the perpetual hostility of Britain’s environment appears as an all too prescient portrait of the United Kingdom’s occulted climate of anti-blackness. In this durational drama of imperilled existence, racial capitalism is envisioned as an ongoing process of extraction through which the Capitalocene is lived. What is pictured is a cosmodrama that insists on the inseperability of climate from race and expiration from pollution. A cosmos informed by black feminist thought that draws upon the anti-imperialist poetics of Una Marson, the alluvial incantations of Édouard Glissant, the black feminist poethics of Denise Ferreira da Silva and the Black Anthropocene of Kathryn Yusoff. Tuesday 30 June 2020 The Equation of Value In conversation with philosopher Denise Ferreira da Silva. 20:00 British Standard Time 12 noon Pacific Standard Time. Free. Book here to join the Zoom Webinar. Livestreamed on LUX Facebook. The Otolith Collective discusses Denise Ferreira da Silva’s ongoing theorization of Black Feminist Poethics that seeks to emancipate ‘the Category of Blackness from the scientific and historical ways of knowing that produced it in the first place…’ In her recent writings, Ferreira da Silva turns towards mathematical reasoning so as to think through the ‘unquestioned question reiterated by the disregard for lives lost in the streets of the US and in the Mediterranean Sea: Why don’t black lives matter?’ Ferreira da Silva’s formulation of what she calls an Equation of Value informs INFINITY minus Infinity’s aesthetic imagination of blackness as that which holds and hosts the capacity to disrupt life. Wednesday 1 July 2020 Hostile Environment: Environmental Hostility In conversation with sound artist and writer Esi Eshun, poet Dante Micheaux and composer and performer Elaine Mitchener. 18:00 British Standard Time 10 am Pacific Standard Time.  Free. Book here to join the Zoom Webinar. Livestreamed on LUX Facebook. As researchers and performers in INFINITY minus Infinity, Esi Eshun, Dante Micheaux and Elaine Mitchener collaborated with Anjalika Sagar and Kodwo Eshun on the collective theorization of the hostile environment as the modality through which the afterlife of slavery is lived in the United Kingdom today. In conversation with The Otolith Collective, Eshun, Micheaux and Mitchener discuss the compounded timelines of racial capitalism that accretes in the present of the UK from the perspectives of black feminist thought developed by Una Marson, Denise Ferreira da Silva, Saidiya V. Hartman, Christina Sharpe and Kathryn Yusoff. Viewing INFINITY minus Infinity, 2019, 52 mins, will be available to view on LUX Player from 17.30 British Standard Time on Monday 29 June until 17.30 British Standard Time on Wednesday 1 July. Guests Esi Eshun is a London based multidisciplinary artist and independent researcher who works primarily with text, sound and performance to investigate some of the socio-economic, psychological and philosophical contradictions of colonialism and its continuing geopolitical and ecological significances. Her solo and collaborative projects have been presented across a variety of platforms in the UK and internationally. Denise Ferreira da Silva Denise Ferreira da Silva is director and professor at the University of British Columbia’s Social Justice Institute (GRSJ). Her academic and artistic works address the ethico-political challenges of the global present. She lives and works on the traditional, ancestral and unceded territory of the Musqueam (xʷməθkʷəy̓əm) people. Dante Micheaux Dante Micheaux is author of Amorous Shepherd (2010) and Circus (2018), which won the 2019 Four Quartets Prize from the Poetry Society of America and the T. S. Eliot Foundation. His poems and translations have appeared in Poetry, The American Poetry Review, Callaloo, PN Review, The African American Review and Tongue—among other journals and anthologies. He has been shortlisted for the Benjamin Zephaniah Poetry Prize and the Bridport Prize. Micheaux’s other honours include fellowships from Cave Canem Foundation and The New York Times Foundation. Elaine Mitchener Elaine Mitchener was born and raised in East London of Jamaican heritage Elaine Mitchener is a contemporary vocalist, movement artist and composer, whose work encompasses improvisation, contemporary/experimental music theatre and dance. She has performed and collaborated with numerous leading artists including Camae Ayewa (Moor Mother), Mark Padmore, George E. Lewis, The Otolith Group, Sonia Boyce, Tansy Davies, Hamid Drake, Van Huynh Company, Apartment House, David Toop, London Sinfonietta, Christian Marclay, Ensemble Manufaktur für aktuelle Musik, William Parker. She is founder of collective electroacoustic trio The Rolling Calf with saxophonist Jason Yarde and bassist Neil Charles. Elaine is a 2020 Rauschenberg Residency Artist-in Residence and her sound works are held in a curated collection by George E Lewis at Darmstadt Festival.


INFINITY minus Infinity, 2019, was commissioned by Sharjah Architecture Triennial SAT01 and co-produced with Z33 House for Contemporary Art, Design and Architecture, Hasselt, Belgium.

Supported by

LUX Southern Alberta Art Gallery IMMA (Irish Museum of Modern Art)