the vera list center for art and politics announces 2021 forum series: as for protocols

Annual convening of key participants in the field of art and politics will happen October 12-16, 2021

Conflictorium, Right to Freedom of Speech and Expression, installation view. Photo by Shristi Sharma. Courtesy of the Conflictorium Archives.

New York, October 5, 2021 - The New School’s Vera List Center for Art and Politics today announced the VLC 2021 Forum: As for Protocols, which highlights the protocols-related work of each of the 2020–2022 Jane Lombard Fellows, online and in-person from October 12–16, 2021.

Each day of the Forum is dedicated to an exemplary art project advancing social justice in its community. They feature the work of the 2020–2022 Jane Lombard Prize Recipient Avni Sethi of Ahmedabad, India, and those of the Jane Lombard Fellows: Emeka Okereke (Lagos/Berlin), NayanTara Gurung Kakshapati (Kathmandu), Underground Resistance (Detroit), and Jorge González (San Juan, PR). A full description of each day, all of which are free to the public with an RSVP, is below.

“If anything, the pandemic has taught us the preciousness and the volatility of being together,” said Carin Kuoni, Chief Curator, VLC. “We are thrilled to invite you to the five-day VLC Forum that celebrates community—with the artist fellows, with our partner organizations in New York, and with scholars, artists, and activists at The New School and throughout the world—with a live techno music concert, a gathering around a community-built altar of candles in the Lower East Side, and film screenings as well as online workshops, readings, discussions, and conversations.”

The Vera List Center Forum 2021 is presented as part of the Center’s 2020–2022 focus theme, As for Protocols. It is curated by Carin Kuoni and Eriola Pira and convened with the support of Re’al Christian, Camila Palomino, Adrienne Umeh, assisted by Nelly Kobanenko, Ash Moniz, and Molly Ragan. Partner organizations, on both sides of the East River, include Bluestocking Cooperative, Center for Book Arts, The Clemente, UnionDocs, and Weeksville Heritage Center.

Protocols, the VLC proposes, are like grammar that regulates how people relate to each other, to their cultural, social, and political environments, and to the technologies that create them. While often ignored, invisible, or not explicitly stated, protocols determine much in our lives. The goal of the Forum is to investigate some of these protocols and contribute to the creation of new protocols that are more inclusive and equitable. The presentation of these five projects is the culmination of the first year of the two-year research focus theme that will lead toward new spaces of political empowerment.

The Forum is anchored by the exhibition Owed to a Certain Emptiness: Infra-structuring the Conflictorium, dedicated to 2020–2022 Jane Lombard Prize recipient Avni Sethi. Said the prize jury, chaired by curator Candice Hopkins when appointing Sethi:

“Deeply embedded in the surrounding communities of Ahmedabad, Conflictorium is opening up histories of individual and collective trauma and holding space for challenging and difficult conversations. The museum operates within a complicated political context and is an intellectual and ethical sanctuary in the region—particularly at a time when democracy and basic human rights, including religious freedoms, are under attack, in Gujarat, and elsewhere in the world.”

Conflictorium is rooted in the political dimensions of its immediate surroundings. Under Sethi’s guidance, Conflictorium uses lyricism to recalibrate what has been frozen into silence, and it is through this sense of the political dimension of poetics, that it addresses the often unspeakable nature of trauma.

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TUESDAY, OCTOBER 12 | VLC FORUM DAY ONE
Invisible Borders Trans-African Photographers Organization
10 am, 12 pm, & 2 pm EDT: Workshops
6:30 pm EDT: Film Screening and Conversation
Online & at UnionDocs, 322 Union Ave, Brooklyn

In a performance of coming together, Jane Lombard Fellow Emeka Okereke gathers members and collaborators of the Invisible Borders Trans-African Photographers Organization, an artist-led initiative that challenges the perception of borders within the 54 countries of Africa. Virtual workshops and conversations, as well as an in-person screening at UnionDocs reflect on notions and spaces of encounter, the poetics of relation, and the protocols necessary to translate these concepts into artistic practice.

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 13 | VLC FORUM DAY TWO
Nepal Picture Library
11–1 pm EDT: Presentation
4–5:30 pm EDT: Bookmaking workshop for kids
Online

In this presentation, we introduce the Nepal Picture Library, a communitarian archive founded by Jane Lombard Fellow NayanTara Gurung Kakshapati that actively preserves the memory cultures of minority groups and social resistance in Nepal, and regularly focuses on the country's feminist histories, and how these histories arise in children’s literature and books. The presentation is followed by an online bookmaking workshop for children (ages 8 and up) led by artist and educator María Verónica San Martín. This workshop is presented in collaboration with the Center for Book Arts.

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 14 | VLC FORUM DAY THREE
Underground Resistance
5:30–7 pm EDT: Underground Resistance and Friends: A Conversation
7–8 pm EDT: Reception & Visit of historical Hunterfly Road Houses
8–10 pm EDT: DJ performance, UR presents Nomadico
Weeksville Heritage Center, 158 Dr. Joan Maynard Way/Buffalo Avenue, Brooklyn

Jane Lombard Fellow Underground Resistance presents Nomadico in collaboration with Weeksville Heritage Center for a live DJ performance. An accompanying public program brings together UR's Cornelius Harris, Nomadico, educator Daniel Zarazua, musician TYGAPAW (Dion McKenzie), and multidisciplinary artist Shyboi (Yulan Grant) for an intergenerational conversation that contextualizes the world-building and political project that is Underground Resistance, a techno music collective and label in Detroit.

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 15 | VLC FORUM DAY FOUR
Conflictorium
2 pm: Conversation Online

Daily conversations with different interlocutors animate the exhibition Owed to a Certain Emptiness: Infra-structuring the Conflictorium. On Day Four of the Forum, Avni Sethi engages in an in-depth conversation with seminal filmmaker and artist Amar Kanwar. For a schedule of the other speakers, please visit veralistcenter.org.

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 16 | VLC FORUM DAY FIVE
Escuela de Oficios
2–4 pm EDT, Community Altar 
Embedded in a day of screenings, readings, open-mic, and a communal meal
The Clemente Soto Vélez Cultural & Educational Center, 107 Suffolk St, New York

Following a recent trip to Mexico to connect with his paternal roots and learn traditional tallow candle-making techniques, Jorge González sets up a candle-making site as an altar at The Clemente, enacting Escuela’s continuous, embodied work of community regeneration. Presented in collaboration with The Clemente and Bluestockings.

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The Vera List Center Forum 2021 and free admission to all events are made possible by major support from Jane Lombard and the Kettering Fund, as well as The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, the Boris Lurie Art Foundation, Dayton Foundation, Ford Foundation, the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation, Pryor Cashman LLP, The New School as well as members of the Vera List Center’s board and other individuals.

Virtual events of the Vera List Center Forum 2021 will be livestreamed with live ASL interpretation and captioning.

The Vera List Center for Art and Politics is a scholarly research center and a public forum for art, culture, and politics. It was established at The New School in 1992—a time of rousing debates about freedom of speech, identity politics, and society's investment in the arts. A pioneer in the field, the Center is a nonprofit that serves a critical mission: to foster a vibrant and diverse community of artists, scholars, and policymakers who take creative, intellectual, and political risks to bring about positive change.

Founded in 1919, The New School was established to advance academic freedom, tolerance, and experimentation. A century later, The New School remains at the forefront of innovation in higher education, inspiring more than 10,000 undergraduate and graduate students to challenge the status quo in design and the social sciences, liberal arts, management, the arts, and media. The university welcomes thousands of adult learners annually for continuing education courses and public programs that encourage open discourse and social engagement. Through our online learning portals, research institutes, and international partnerships, The New School maintains a global presence.

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