Prize Ceremony and Keynote Conversation with Maria Thereza Alves and Saidiya Hartman

Fri 3 Nov 2017 6.00PM-6.45PM The New School
The Auditorium at 12th Street
66 West 12th Street
New York, NY 10011
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Introduced by Executive Dean Mary Watson, Maria Thereza Alves receives the Vera List Center Prize for Art and Politics 2016-2018 and the prize object, Yoko Ono's sculpture The Third Eye, for her project Seeds of Change.

Seeds of Change explores the social, political and cultural history of ballast flora in port cities and reveals patterns, temporalities and instruments of colonialism, commerce and migration going back many centuries. In the conversation that follows, Maria Thereza Alves discusses her prize-winning project and its repercussions in the current political moment with Saidiya Hartman, Professor at Columbia University and author of Scenes of Subjection: Terror, Slavery, and Self-making in Nineteenth Century America and Lose Your Mother: A Journey Along the Atlantic Slave Route.

The Vera List Center was founded twenty-five years ago, a time of rousing debates on freedom of speech and identity politics, the Culture Wars in the U.S, and challenges to society's investment in the arts. In a radically changed world, new articulations of related conflicts are now erupting with similar fervor throughout the world – and the Center is marking its 25th anniversary with two major assemblies: in November 2017, an international conference on art and social justice, celebrating the third Vera List Center Prize for Art and Politics, and in April 2018, a celebration of twenty-five years of Vera List Center Fellows.

On the brink of the elimination of federal arts funding in the U.S., widespread xenophobia, forced global migration, environmental destruction, and ongoing systemic racism, the Vera List Center Prize Conference in November looks at the urgent and necessary work of the recipient of the third Vera List Center Prize for Art and Politics, Brazilian artist Maria Thereza Alves, and the five Prize Finalists: the London-based interdisciplinary research agency Forensic Architecture; the artist coalition Gulf Labor; House of Natural Fibers (HONF), a new media arts laboratory in Yogyakarta, Indonesia; IsumaTV, a collaborative multimedia platform for indigenous filmmakers and media organization in Canada; and MadeYouLook, an artist collective based in Johannesburg, South Africa.

As Prize Finalists, these artists have been recognized for a particular project's impact, boldness and artistic excellence, and the risk they take to advance social justice in profound and visionary ways. At the conference, in dialogue with an international group of writers, scholars, and other artists, Maria Thereza Alves and the Finalists consider key topics resonant with their projects, such as the obscured histories of sovereignty and decolonization; anthropogenic movements of soils; migration and environment; media languages and self-representation; everyday infrastructures and labor; as well as the dynamics of the right to visibility and/or invisibility.

The panel discussions survey the field of art and social justice by mining the exemplary projects of the Vera List Center Prize Finalists for their capacity to make legible urgent issues around the world, and to model ways in which to successfully address them. Each exchange includes writers, thinkers and scholars from the arts, humanities, social and natural sciences, and respondents from The New School community who also moderate the conversations.

The Friday panels are centered on Maria Thereza Alves' prize winning project Seeds of Change and culminate in a keynote conversation between her and Saidiya Hartman. This is followed by the presentation of the Vera List Center Prize for Art and Politics 2016-2018 to Alves and the opening of her exhibition Maria Thereza Alves, Seeds of Change: New York—A Botany of Colonization. On Saturday, the focus is on the projects of the Finalists, and the ways theirs resonate with Alves' Seeds of Change.

The Vera List Center Prize for Art and Politics 2016-2018: Maria Thereza Alves, Seeds of Change New York—A Botany of Colonization is organized by Carin Kuoni, director of the Vera List Center for Art and Politics and Amanda Parmer, curator of the Vera List Center, and is made possible by Prize Founding Supporters: James Keith Brown and Eric Diefenbach, Elizabeth R. Hilpman and Byron Tucker, Jane Lombard, Joshua Mack and The New School.

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