Poethical Readings/Intuiting the Political — Denise Ferreira da Silva & Valentina Desideri

9 – 10 July 2015

The Showroom

Reading Sessions (booking strictly required) and public event.

The Showroom
63 Penfold St
London NW8 8PQ
+44 (0)7733 322 827

A poetics can take you only so far without an h. If you’re to embrace complex life on earth, if you can no longer pretend that all things are fundamentally simple or elegant, a poetics thickened by an h launches an exploration of art’s significance as, not just about, a form of living in the real world. That as is not a simile; it’s an ethos. Hence the h. What I’m working on is quite explicitly a poethics of a complex realism. – Joan Retellack, Poethical Wager, 2003 

What if, instead of providing a resolution, a direct answer, or a definite interpretation, a reading helped us to navigate the complexity of existence – attending to both its actual and virtual moments – its different positions, relationships and layers that also constitute us? Every reading exposes possibilities, reveals blockages, and shifts perspectives. Beyond the principles of non-contradiction and identity, readings design a space where multiple articulations of situations and events coexist without the imposition of a single meaning or direction.

Drawing from each other’s practices Denise & Valentina come together in a studio for poethical readings. Their studio experiments with reading tools inspired by well-known and newly-designed practices – such as the Tarots, Political Therapy, Palmistry, Fake Therapy as well as Reiki, Astrology, and Philosophy. Belonging to the kind of knowing Walter Benjamin calls intuitive faculty and Carl G Jung names creative thinking, these reading tools assemble images: Reading as imaging, in their practice, consists in an assembling that exposes and navigates the complex context constituting the situation, event, or problem that concerns a person or collective at a given moment and place. As such, it aims at expanding the horizon of interpretation, that is, to open up possibilities and unsettle realities.

Public Event: Intuiting the Political
Friday 10 July

Free booking through Eventbrite

A performed, open, public conversation about how we might think politics from the position of intuition.

Poethical Reading Sessions (booking strictly required):

Thursday 9 July:
Session 1 10.15-11am
Session 2 11.15am-12pm
Session 3 1.15-2pm
Session 4 2.15-3pm
Session 5 3.15-4pm

Friday 10 July: 
Session 1 10.15-11am
Session 2 11.15am-12pm

Each session can be booked by an individual or small group (5 people max). To book please contact:


or call 020 7724 4300.

The person or group should come to the session with a political question to be read. A ‘political question’ is any problem, issue, or situation that has a political dimension and that is experienced directly by the person. There is no need to come with a well-defined question. For ‘the question’ can also come up during an initial reading and it can be further narrowed or expanded when addressed by other tools. It may be something that bothers or preoccupies you, regardless of whether it is primarily lived out on a practical, personal, ideological, conceptual or existential level.

Commissioned by How to work together (a shared programme between Chisenhale Gallery, The Showroom and Studio Voltaire) for the Think Tank 2015-16, supported by Jerwood Charitable Foundation.



Valentina Desideri is an Amsterdam-based artist. She trained in contemporary dance at the Laban Centre in London (2003–2006) and later on did her MA in Fine Arts at the Sandberg Institute in Amsterdam (2011–13). She does Fake Therapy and Political Therapy, she co-organises Performing Arts Forum in France, she speculates in writing with Prof. Stefano Harney, she writes biographies by reading people’s hands, she engages in Poetical Readings with Prof. Denise Ferreira da Silva.

Denise Ferreira da Silva teaches at the Institute for Gender, Race, Sexuality, and Social Justice (GRSJ) at the University of British Columbia, Canada. She is a Philosopher and Political and Critical Legal Theorist. Her recent publications include Toward a Global Idea of Race (University of Minnesota Press, 2007) and co-editor of “Race, Empire, and the Subprime Crisis” (Johns Hopkins 2013), and Notes Towards the End of time (Living Commons Collective, 2015). Her recent most articles include “To Be Announced: Radical Praxis of Knowing at/the Limits of Justice” (Social Text, 2013) and (2014) “Transversing the Circuit of Dispossession.” (The Eighteenth Century: Theory and Interpretation, 2014) and “Toward a Black Feminist Poethics: The Quest(ion) of Blackness Towards the End of the World” (The Black Scholar, 2014). She also co-edits the Routledge’s book series Law and the Postcolonial: Ethics, Politics, and Economy and Indigenous Peoples and the Law, is a founding member of the Living Commons Collective, and the editor of Living Commons Press.