Feminist Manifestos

Seminar No. 2 of Freedom of Speech: A Curriculum for Studies into Darkness Series Mon 3 Dec 2018 6.30PM-8.30PM The New School | Wollman Hall
65 West 11th Street, 5th floor
New York City

Free admission; space is limited and registration required. On registration, participants will receive preparatory reading material.
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Manifestos have been historically used by feminist activists, artists and writers to boldly state their ideas and demands. Usually brief and direct in tone, they point to circumstances deemed unacceptable and in need of change, and propose pathways to move forward in order to overcome the status quo. From Olympe de Gouges in revolutionary France to the Redstockings in the streets of New York City and the Zapatistas in the remote mountains of the Mexican southeast, women have employed manifestos as a means to be heard and circulate their ideas, but also as a way to build coalitions with others who might recognize themselves in their struggles. As part of the year-long seminar cycle Freedom of Speech: Curriculum for Studies into Darkness, this event proposes speech as a collective act of re-appropriation. It calls for a network of resistance and transformation through the enactment of a series of documents written by women in different corners of the world during different moments in time, resonant with the explosive reality we experience now.

Feminist Manifestos is presented as a two-part public program that will activate written statements challenging cultural production, food distribution, knowledge creation, land ownership and other systems of oppression that the patriarchy, still today, refuses to acknowledge. Starting at 10am on Monday morning, a diverse group of self-identified women from across The New School—students, alumni, administrative and maintenance staff, union members, and faculty—will be reading and performing a selection of historical and contemporary manifestos at various locations within the university's architecture. Those specific spaces have been selected because they relate to the content of the texts, and play a significant role in the performers´ daily lives. Through the acts of public speaking and collective listening, quotidian spaces become the context for socio-political struggles while also pointing out at the emancipatory potential of our everyday activities and choices.

The second part of the event serves as a gathering to discuss the conditions from which the manifestos emerged and the ways in which they have catalyzed new forms of cooperation and collective action. Along with feminist scholars and visual artists, we will explore ideas—gleaned from the documents—such as the perpetuation of capitalism based on the unpaid reproductive labor women perform, or the unexpected advantages of anonymity within the arts. Additionally, women who enacted the manifestos earlier in the day will be sharing their experiences of performing Free Speech, embodying the knowledge, perspectives and emotions embedded in those statements.

Becca Albee, visual artist and musician
Chiara Bottici, Associate Professor of Philosophy, The New School for Social Research
Silvia Federici, philosopher, scholar, writer and activist from the radical autonomist Marxist tradition
A.L. Steiner, visual artist, teacher, collaborator and co-founder of Ridykeulous and Working Artists and the Greater Economy (W.A.G.E.)

Gabriela López Dena, Graduate Student Fellow for Art and Social Justice

This public program has been curated by Gabriela López Dena as part of her graduate student fellowship in Arts and Social Justice at the Vera List Center for Arts and Politics, and within the context of her thesis project Feminist Urbanism.

The seminar series Freedom of Speech: Curriculum for Studies into Darkness is organized as part of the center's 2018–2020 curatorial focus If Art Is Politics. It is curated 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.

Feminist Manifestos is the second in a series of seminars, dedicated to Freedom of Speech. Other seminars in this series include:

Seminar 1: Mapping the Territory
Monday, November 12, 2018

Seminar 3
Monday, February 11, 2019
Partner organization: ARTICLE 19

Seminar 4
Monday, March 11, 2019

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

Seminar 6: Feet on the Ground
Monday, June 3, 2019
Partner organization: New York Peace Institute

Closing Convening: September 2019