Mapping the Territory

Seminar 1 of Freedom of Speech: A Curriculum for Studies into Darkness Mon 12 Nov 2018 6.30PM-8.30PM The New School | Theresa Lang Community Center
55 West 13th Street, 2nd floor
New York City

Click Here for Seminar Overview

Admission is free. On registration, participants receive preparatory reading material.
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[Please note: event summary, suggested readings, program and video documentation can be found at bottom of this page.]

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
Anna Keye, Development & Outreach Officer, New York Peace Institute
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.

The seminar series Freedom of Speech. A Curriculum for Studies into Darkness is organized by the Vera List Center for Art and Politics as part of the center's 2018–2020 curatorial focus If Art Is Politics. It is directed by Carin Kuoni, Director/Chief Curator, Vera List Center, and Laura Raicovich with assistance by Gabriela López Dena. Partner organizations for the seminars are ARTICLE 19; the National Coalition Against Censorship; New York Peace Institute; and Weeksville Heritage Center. Mapping the Territory is presented in partnership with the National Coalition Against Censorship.
    • Mapping the Territory
      • K VLC. Mapping the Territory. SUGGESTED READINGS Download - pdf (196 kB)
      • K VLC. Mapping the Territory. PROGRAM Download - pdf (925 kB)
      • K VLC. Mapping the Territory. MINTCHEVA INTRODUCTION Download - pdf (401 kB)
      • K VLC. Mapping the Territory. SUMMARY Download - pdf (230 kB)
Mapping the Territory is the first in a series of seminars, dedicated to Freedom of Speech. Other seminars in this series include:

Seminar 2: Feminist Manifestos
Monday, December 3, 2018

Seminar 3: Pervasive and Personal: Observations on Free Speech Online
Monday, February 11, 2019
Partner organization: ARTICLE 19

Seminar 4: Say It Like You Mean It: On Translation, Communication, Languages
Monday, March 11, 2019

Seminar 5: A Time for Seditious Speech
Saturday, April 13, 2019
Partner organization: Weeksville Heritage Center
@ Weeksville Heritage Center

Seminar 6: Going Towards the Heat: Speaking Across Difference
Monday, June 10, 2019
Partner organization: New York Peace Institute

Closing Convening
Friday & Saturday, September 20 & 21, 2019