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Filipa César and Louis Henderson, Refracted Spaces, 2017. Co-commissioned by Gasworks and Contour Biennale 8. Courtesy of the artists.

7-9pm, Friday 2 June, offsite at Close-Up Film Centre, 97 Sclater Street, London E1 6HR
10am-7pm, Saturday 3 June at Gasworks
Free, book using the buttons below. Please arrive promptly

Gasworks presents Refracted Spaces, a research seminar convened by Filipa César and Louis Henderson. Developed as a way to expand on their research for Op Film: An Archaeology of Optics, the event situates the work presented in the exhibition in a wider context, incorporating the critical perspectives and practices of various other thinkers, researchers and artists.

Together with Zach Blas, Denise Ferreira da Silva, Ana Naomi de Sousa, Olivier Marboeuf, Margarida Mendes, Rachel O'Reilly, Roque Pina and Lorenzo Pezzani, the artists will discuss the themes of their exhibition in relation to topics ranging from indigenous sea-navigation methods and cartographic law to forensic research of the Mediterranean refugee crisis; from aesthetic strategies of nonlocality, opacity and obscurity that interrupt optical surveillance to systemic racism embedded within technological developments; and from the materiality and ontology of blackness and black light to afrofuturist narratives of submarine resistance.

The seminar includes a conversation between Filipa César, Louis Henderson and Roque Pina, the protagonist of their film Sunstone and the keeper of the lighthouse at Cabo da Roca, Portugal – the westernmost point of continental Europe.


Friday 2 June, offsite at Close-Up Film Centre, 97 Sclater Street, London E1 6HR

  • 7pm: Introduction
  • 7.15-8.30pm: Margarida Mendes presents a ritual projection of moving image works that dwell on the electrical grid and its spells, exploring how the rhythms and anxieties produced by the infrastructural properties of light elicit expanded sensorial perception.
  • 8.30pm: Reading by Filipa César and Louis Henderson

Eventbrite - Research Seminar: Refracted Spaces - FRIDAY

Saturday 3 June at Gasworks

  • 10am: Introduction
  • 10.30am: Rachel O'Reilly
  • 11.30am Roque Pina in conversation with Filipa César and Louis Henderson
  • 12.30pm Lorenzo Pezzani
  • 1.30pm: Lunch
  • 2.30pm: Ana Naomi de Sousa
  • 3.30pm: Zach Blas
  • 4.30pm: Olivier Marboeuf
  • 5.30pm: Tea break
  • 6pm: Denise Ferreira da Silva (via Skype)

Eventbrite - Research Seminar: Refracted Spaces - SATURDAY

Participants' Biographies

Zach Blas is an artist and writer whose practice engages technics and minoritarian politics. He is currently a Lecturer in Visual Cultures at Goldsmiths, University of London. Blas has exhibited and lectured internationally, recently at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London; eflux, New York; and Museo Universitario Arte Contemporáneo, Mexico City. Blas’s artist monograph Escaping the Face will be published by Sternberg Press and Rhizome in 2017. His work has been written about and featured in Artforum, Frieze, Art Papers, Mousse Magazine, and Art Review.

Filipa César is an artist and filmmaker interested in the fictional aspects of the documentary, the porous borders between cinema and its reception, and the politics and poetics inherent to moving image. Since 2011, César has been looking into the origins of cinema of the African Liberation Movement in Guinea Bissau as a laboratory of resistance to ruling epistemologies. Selected exhibitions and screenings have taken place at: 29th São Paulo Biennial, 2010; Manifesta 8, Cartagena, 2010; Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin, 2011–15; Jeu de Paume, Paris, 2012; Kunstwerke, Berlin, 2013; SAAVY Contemporary, Berlin 2014–15; Futura, Prague 2015; Tensta konsthall, Spånga, 2015; and Mumok, Vienna, 2016. César premiered her first feature length essay-film Spell Reel at the Forum section of the 67. Berlinale, 2017.

Ana Naomi de Sousa is an independent documentary filmmaker and journalist who is interested in spatial politics, race, historical memory, popular culture and political activism. She is the director of the films The Architecture of Violence; Angola - Birth of a Movement; Guerrilla Architect; and Hacking Madrid; and film co-director on the project Saydnaya: Inside a Syrian Torture Prison. She collaborates with the Forensic Architecture agency, and writes for Al Jazeera English and the Guardian, among others. She is currently developing her first feature-length film. 

Denise Ferreira da Silva, PhD is the Director of The Social Justice Institute (GRSJ) at the University of British Columbia, Visiting Professor of Law at Birkbeck-University of London (UK), and Adjunct Professor of Curatorial Practice at MADA-Monash University (Australia). Her academic writings and artistic practice address the ethical questions of the global present and target the metaphysical and onto-epistemological dimensions of modern thought. Academic publications include Toward a Global Idea of Race (University of Minnesota Press, 2007) and the edited volume Race, Empire, and The Crisis of the Subprime (with Paula Chakravartty, Johns Hopkins University Press, 2013).  She has written for publications of the 2016 Liverpool and Sao Paulo Biennials as well as for the 2017 Documenta 14 – Reader and Venice Biennale. Her artistic work includes collaborations, such as the films Serpent Rain (with Arjuna Neuman, 2016) and the 2014 play Return of the Vanished Peasant (with Rosalind Martin)  as well as  events and texts which are part of her Poethical Readings and the Sensing Salon practices (with Valentina Desideri). She was an advisor to Natasha Ginwala, curator of the Contour 8 Biennale (Mechelen, 2017).

Louis Henderson is an artist and filmmaker whose works investigate connections between colonialism, technology, capitalism and history. Henderson has shown his work at places such as: Rotterdam International Film Festival, Doc Lisboa, CPH:DOX, New York Film Festival, The Contour Biennial, The Kiev Biennial, The Centre Pompidou, SAVVY Contemporary, The Gene Siskell Film Centre and Tate Britain. In 2015 he was the recipient of the Barbara Aronofsky Latham Award for Emerging Video Artist at the 53rd Ann Arbor Film Festival, USA, and a European Short Film Award—New Horizons International Film Festival, Wroclaw, Poland. His work is distributed by LUX (UK) and Video Data Bank (USA).

Olivier Marboeuf is an author, performer, independent curator and the founder of the art centre Espace Khiasma, which he has directed since 2004 in Les Lilas, on the outskirts of Paris. He has developed a programme centred around social realities and contemporary politics, which associates performances, debates and exhibitions, and questions the place of discourse and oral expression in the arts. Interested by the dynamics of narrative speculations as tools for critical theory, his research has progressively led him to explore contemporary cinematographic practices (collaborating on exhibitions with Vincent Meessen, Alexander Schelow, Sandy Amerio, Matthieu K. Abonnenc, Brad Butler and Karen Mirza). Since 2010 he has produced films for exhibitions, which are subsequently presented in diverse festivals in France and abroad. In 2013 he participated in the creation of a production company Spectre, whose objective is to offer a structure of support for ambitious projects of artists and filmmakers. Among them: Louis Henderson, Filipa César, Ana Vaz, Eric Baudelaire, Ismaïl Bahri, Jean-Charles Hue and Dorothée Smith.

Margarida Mendes is a researcher, curator, activist, and co-director of escuelita at Centro de Arte Dos de Mayo Madrid - CA2M. In 2016 she was part of the curatorial team of the Gwangju Biennale in South Korea, and between 2009 and 2015 directed the project space The Barber Shop in Lisbon, where she hosted a programme of seminars and residencies dedicated to artistic and philosophical research. Exploring the overlap between cybernetics, the history of science, extractivism, cosmology and experimental film, her personal research investigates the dynamic transformations of the environment and their impact on social structures and cultural production. Some of these concerns have been further explored telephone-based project ‘The World in Which We Occur’, co-directed with Jennifer Teets. Margarida holds an MA in Aural and Visual Culture from Goldsmiths College, London, and in 2013 she was part of the Synapse Curatorial Research Group included in the ‘Anthropocene Project’ at Haus der Kulturen der Welt Berlin, publishing in the volume ‘Textures of the Anthropocene: Grain Vapor Ray’, edited by MIT Press (Cambridge, MA)

Rachel O’Reilly is an Australian-born writer/artist/poet, independent researcher, curator and educator, whose work bridges art and situated cultural politics, media philosophy and political economy. She trained as a curator of international and Asia Pacific film, video and new media (Gallery of Modern Art and Australian Cinematheque 2004-08, Asia Pacific Triennial 2008), and has an MA (Cum Laude) in Media and Culture from the University of Amsterdam (2012). From 2013-14 she was a researcher at the Jan van Eyck Academie, NL where she incepted the artistic research project, The Gas Imaginary, exploring the aesthetic politics of 'unconventional extraction' (esp. fracking) investments in settler colonial space. Her artistic work has been presented at Tate Livepool, David Roberts Art Foundation, London, Museum of Yugloslav History, Belgrade, BAK, Utrecht, Jakarta Biennale, Qalandiya International, Jerusalem; her academic writing published by Cambridge Scholars Press, MIT Press, and Postcolonial Studies journal among others. She writes with Danny Butt on artistic autonomy in settler colonial space and with Jelena Vesic and Vlidi Jeri on the legacies of Non-Aligned Movement, and teaches the seminar 'At the Limits of the Writerly' as part of the ‘How to Do Things with Theory’ program at the Dutch Art Institute, NL.

Roque Pina is the protagonist of Filipa César and Louis Henderson’s film Sunstone and the keeper of the lighthouse at Cabo da Roca, Portugal – the westernmost point of continental Europe.

Lorenzo Pezzani is Lecturer at Goldsmiths, University of London, where he leads the Forensic Architecture MA studio. His work deals with the spatial politics and visual cultures of migration, with a particular focus on the geography of the ocean. Since 2011, he has been working on Forensic Oceanography, a collaborative project that critically investigates the militarized border regime in the Mediterranean Sea. Together with a wide network of NGOs, scientists, journalists and activist groups, he has produced maps, visualizations and human right reports that attempt to document the violence perpetrated against migrants at sea and challenge the regime of visibility imposed by surveillance means on this contested area.