There have been few times in US American history when the very concept of freedom of speech—its promise and its contradictions—has been under greater scrutiny. Guided by acclaimed artist, filmmaker, and activist Amar Kanwar, the Vera List Center for Art and Politics at The New School convened a series of public seminars on freedom of speech with the participation of some of the most original thinkers and artists on the topic. Structured as an open curriculum, each seminar examined a particular aspect of freedom of speech, reflecting on and informed by recent debates around hate speech, censorship, sexism, and racism in the US and elsewhere. Studies into Darkness emerges from these seminars as a collection of newly commissioned texts, artist projects, and resources that delve into the intricacies of free speech. Providing a practical and historical guide to free speech discourse and in-depth investigations that extend far beyond the current moment, and featuring poetic responses to the crises present in contemporary culture and society around expression, this publication provocatively questions whether true communication is ever attainable.
Contributions by Zach Blas, Mark Bray, Natalie Diaz, Aruna D’Souza, Silvia Federici and Gabriela López Dena, Jeanne van Heeswijk, shawné michaelain holloway, Prathibha Kanakamedala and Obden Mondésir, Amar Kanwar, Carin Kuoni, Lyndon, Debora, and Abou, Svetlana Mintcheva, Mendi + Keith Obadike, Vanessa Place, Laura Raicovich, Michael Rakowitz, Kameelah Janan Rasheed, and Nabiha Syed.
Carin Kuoni is a curator and writer, Assistant Professor for Visual Studies and Senior Director/Chief Curator of the Vera List Center for Art and Politics at The New School. She is the editor of several anthologies, among them Forces of Art: Perspectives from a Changing World (Valiz 2020) and, with Kareem Estefan and Laura Raicovich, Assuming Boycott: Resistance, Agency, and Cultural Production (OR Books 2017).
Laura Raicovich is a writer and curator. She recently served as Interim Director of the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Art, was a Rockefeller Foundation Fellow at the Bellagio Center, and was awarded the inaugural Emily H. Tremaine Journalism Fellowship for Curators at Hyperallergic. Former Director of the Queens Museum from 2015 to 2018, she lectures internationally and is the author of At the Lightning Field (CHP 2017) and Culture Strike: Art and Museums in an Age of Protest (Verso 2021) as well as co-editor of Assuming Boycott: Resistance, Agency, and Cultural Production (OR Books 2017).