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Freedom of Speech: A Curriculum for Studies Into Darkness: Nov. 11&12

Vera List Center for Art and Politics


Amar Kanwar, Such a Morning, 2017
Opening Event of the Series
Freedom of Speech: A Curriculum for Studies into Darkness

The Vera List Center and UnionDocs in association with Marian Goodman Gallery present a screening of Indian artist and filmmaker Amar Kanwar’s Such a Morning, in the artist’s words “a modern parable about two people’s quiet engagement with truth… Such a Morning navigates multiple transitions between speech and silence, democracy and fascism, fear and freedom. In the cusp between the eye and the mind, shifting time brushes every moment into new potencies. Each character seeks the truth through phantom visions from within the depths of darkness.”

This screening of Kanwar’s film will kick off the Vera List Center’s Freedom of Speech: A Curriculum for Studies into Darkness and will be introduced by Carin Kuoni, Director and Chief Curator of the Vera List Center for Art and Politics, to frame the program in the context of the wider series. Following the film, Laura Raicovich, co-curator of the seminar series, will provide a response to help guide and prompt discussion between Kanwar, Nitin Sawhney, Assistant Professor of Media Studies at The New School, and critic and writer Kaelen Wilson-Goldie. This dialogue will focus on what knowledge can be produced by art, and how the unknown can be a productive incubator in times of crisis.

Join us at 6:30pm for a festive reception to celebrate and toast the launch of this exciting and expansive series.

This screening is followed by Seminar no 1Mapping the Territory, presented at The New School on Monday, November 12, from 6:30-8:30pm. This seminar will begin to chart some of the key issues that will inform the series through fall 2019, among them the legal and social ramifications of freedom of speech, assembly, and protest as foundational to democracy; the question whether these seemingly unassailable rights should have limits in today’s context; and how to contend with the poetic and artistic articulations of these rights, all overlaid by international as well as Indigenous perspectives.


Amar Kanwar, artist and filmmaker, New Delhi
Carin Kuoni, Director/Chief Curator, Vera List Center for Art and Politics
Laura Raicovich, independent curator and writer
Nitin Sawhney, Assistant Professor, Media Studies, The New School
Kaelen Wilson-Goldie, writer and critic

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.

About Freedom of Speech: A Curriculum for Studies into Darkness

Prompted by Kanwar’s invitation to help illuminate that which is unknown or “dark,” the Vera List Center will present Freedom of Speech: A Curriculum for Studies into Darkness, a year-long series of public seminars on Freedom of Speech that are structured like an open curriculum. The program will examine the profound transformation of common understandings of Freedom of Speech as foundational to Western democracies, generated by recent debates around hate speech, censorship, and racism in the U.S. and elsewhere. Key is a consideration of how constitutional law, nation states, corporations, and cultural communities relate to one another through a freedom of expression/freedom of speech lens, including recent controversies on historical monuments, (self) censorship on campuses, social media, and truth vs. facts. In response, the Vera List Center series will propose alternative approaches to the contested idea of Freedom of Speech as an absolute right by artists, scholars, thinkers, and makers in many different communities throughout the world. Rather than a qualifying statement, “darkness” here holds the promise of complexity, discovery and, in Kanwar’s words, “visions from within the depths of darkness” that will animate this program.

Freedom of Speech. A Curriculum of Studies into Darkness is organized by the Vera List Center for Art and Politics at The New School as part of the center’s 2018–2020 curatorial focus If Art Is Politics. Curated by Carin Kuoni, Director/Chief Curator, Vera List Center, and Laura Raicovich with assistance by Gabriela López Dena, it is developed in collaboration with partner organizations ARTICLE 19the National Coalition Against CensorshipNew York Peace Institute; and Weeksville Heritage Center.

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