Public Engagement

General Public

Mapping the Territory

Monday, November 12, 2018 at 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm

Theresa Lang Community and Student Center, Arnhold Hall 55 West 13th Street, Room I-202, New York, NY 10011

Mapping the Territory is the first seminar in a year-long examination of Freedom of Speech. The First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States guarantees four specific freedoms: freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly and protest, and freedom of religion. With Indian artist Amar Kanwar's film Such a Morning (2017) as a point of departure, this seminar series imagines these four freedoms enshrined in the U.S. Constitution as points on the compass rose, which can be overlaid with intersectional thinking from artists, Indigenous peoples, feminists, and innumerable other perspectives, to question current circumstances, and to confront the inequities and uncertainties in our times, especially as they pertain to freedom of speech.

Mapping the Territory takes as a point of departure Kanwar's meditations on the freedoms we have, and have not, and how we might use layers of darkness to illuminate what is unknown, to retrieve rights as they seemingly deteriorate in front of us, and to recuperate a sense of self and society in times of crisis.

The convening will trace the legal and social ramifications of freedom of speech, assembly, and protest as foundational to democracy; question whether these seemingly unassailable rights should have limits in today's context; and contend with the poetic and artistic articulations of these rights, all overlaid by international as well as Indigenous perspectives. Presenters will address such questions as: What are the points of contention surrounding free speech, assembly, and protest? Is freedom of speech a universal human right or is it a utilitarian concept? What might limits on expression mean today, particularly in the context of how other nations define free speech? What is "deplatforming" and why is it an important concept? How is artistic work responding to these ideals? Why is art and poetry important in this discussion? How are Indigenous rights embedded or excluded from speech debates?

The seminar will have a format borrowed from artist Mierle Laderman Ukeles's iconic work "Peace Table" (1997), a circular table around which conversations were convened both in Los Angeles in 1997 following the Rodney King beating, and in Queens in 2016 to discuss peace on a range of personal and political registers. For this VLC seminar, presenters will sit around a circular table, and concentric circles of seats will be available for both respondents and other seminar participants. While initial conversations and short presentations will be framed by the presenters, a vivid discussion will follow, engaging all in attendance. 

This seminar is preceded by a screening of Amar Kanwar's Such a Morning and discussion on November 11, 2018 at 7:30pm, at UnionDocs, Brooklyn. Afterwards, the filmmaker will be joined by seminar co-curators Carin Kuoni and Laura Raicovich as well as filmmaker Nitin Sawhney and writer Kaelen Wilson-Goldie.

Those registered and
Christopher Allen, Founder and Executive Artistic Director, UnionDocs
Mark Bray, political organizer, historian of human rights, terrorism and political radicalism in Modern Europe, and author 
Abou Farman, Assistant Professor, Anthropology, The New School
Rob Fields, President and Executive Director, Weeksville Heritage Center
Amar Kanwar, artist and filmmaker, New Delhi
Carin Kuoni, Director/Chief Curator, Vera List Center for Art and Politics
Quinn McKew, Deputy Executive Director, ARTICLE 19
Mendi and Keith Obadike, artists 
Vanessa Place, artist, writer, and criminal appellate attorney specializing in sex offenders and sexually violent predators
Laura Raicovich, independent curator and writer

Svetlana Mintcheva, Director of Programs, National Coalition Against Censorship

Such a Morning (2017), was produced with the support of the Kiran Nadar Museum of Art, New Delhi, and Marian Goodman Gallery, and presented by Documenta 14 in Athens, Greece, and Kassel, Germany. Such a Morning will be on view in a solo exhibition of Amar Kanwar's work at Marian Goodman Gallery, New York, from November 14 to December 21, 2018. 

Presented by the Vera List Center.

Recent Activity

Getting Here

Detailed Directions

By Train:
The 4, 5, 6, N, R, Q and L to 14th St./Union Square.
The A, C and E to 14th St. and 8th Ave.
The 1, 2 and 3 to 14th St. and 7th Ave.
The The F and M to 14th St. and 6th Ave.
PATH train to 14th St. and 6th Ave.

Event Registration Required

This event requires registration.