Free Speech and Civics

TABLE: A meal in remembrance of Executive Order 9066 by People’s Kitchen Collective. Photo by Sana Javeri Kadri.

Laura Poitras
The Oath

The Oath is a cross-cut tale of two men propelled on divergent courses with Al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, 9/11, Guantanamo Bay Prison and the U.S. Supreme Court. Abu Jandal is a taxi driver in Sana’a, Yemen; his brother-in-law Salim Hamdan is a Guantanamo prisoner and the first man to face the controversial military tribunals. Jandal and Hamdan’s intertwined personal trajectories—how they became bin Laden’s bodyguard and driver, respectively—act as prisms that serve to explore and contextualize a world that has confounded Western media. As Hamdan’s trial progresses, his military lawyers challenge fundamental flaws in the court system. The charismatic Jandal dialogues with his young son, Muslim students and journalists, and chillingly unveils the complex evolution of his belief system post-9/11. The Oath offers a rare window into a realm too long misunderstood—and the international impact of the U.S. War on Terror.

Laura Poitras is a documentary filmmaker who won an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature for Citizenfour.

The Yes Men
The Yes Men

Directed by Dan Olman, Sarah Price, and Chris Smith, The Yes Men, a feature documentary, follows Yes Men Andy and Mike from their beginnings with to their parody of the World Trade Organization’s website. When someone mistakes the site for the real thing, the pranksters are sent speaking invitations to address a convening of the real WTO. Mike and Andy play along with the ruse and soon find themselves attending important functions as WTO representatives. Delighted to speak for the organization they oppose, Andy and Mike don thrift-store suits and set out to shock their unwitting audiences with darkly comic satires on global free trade. To their surprise, their audiences don’t notice the joke and in fact seem to agree with every terrible idea the two suggest. Exhausted by their failed attempts to shock, Mike and Andy take a whole new approach for one final lecture.

The Yes Men are a culture jamming activist duo and network of supporters created by Jacques Servin and Igor Vamos.

Sheryl Oring
I Wish to Say

I Wish to Say is a performance work that engages public dialogue about electoral politics and implicitly examines women’s historical role as listeners. Sheryl Oring dresses as a 1960s secretary, sets up a portable public office complete with a manual typewriter in parks and flea markets across the country, and types cards to the President as dictated by passers-by for the President. The originals are mailed to the White House. Carbon copies of the cards and photographic portraits of the participants are the basis of a traveling exhibition and book.

Sheryl Oring has typed thousands of postcards to the President from locations across the U.S. since launching her I Wish to Say project in 2004.

Mariam Ghani
What We Left Unfinished

During the years of Afghan Communism (1978-1991), Afghan filmmakers shot five fiction features that were never edited or screened. From remnants of these unfinished films, and from the stories of how they were commissioned, produced and canceled by various iterations of the Afghan Communist state, we can reconstruct both the truth of how the state existed and acted in those moments, and also its fictions, desires, fears, and imaginaries. In What We Left Unfinished, Mariam Ghani reconnects the original filmmakers with their unfinished works to produce a film about filmmaking that plays on the gaps between the world on-screen and the lived histories around the films. What We Left Unfinished also considers what it might mean to finish the unfinished projects of the past—both artistic and political—in the present.

Mariam Ghani makes video, installation, performance, photography and writing that frequently turns on memory, history, language, loss and reconstruction.

The Black Schoolhouse

The Black School
The Black Schoolhouse

Expanding on their radical Black art programming, Joseph Cuillier III and Shani Peters turn a 21st-century schoolhouse into a community center, providing civic engagement activities for the Cuillier’s hometown, New Orleans’s 7th Ward. The building will be a working prototype for a new Rosenwald Schools-inspired initiative—which built 5,000 schoolhouses in the Jim Crow South—placing local community at the center of the school’s curriculum. The Black Schoolhouse will serve as a monument to the legacy of Black school building as self determination, acting as a prototype for promoting community-built Black radical learning spaces, and low-cost solutions for housing displacement.

The Black School is an experimental art school with a mission to promote and extend the legacy of art in Black radical histories by providing innovative education alternatives centered in Black love.

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