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This fall, the Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden will partner with the Newseum to launch a series of conversations with critically acclaimed artists, journalists, activists and academics to discuss the role of art and free speech in the 21st century.
The four-part program will coincide with the Hirshhorn’s current exhibition “Ai Weiwei: Trace at Hirshhorn” (June 28–Jan. 1, 2018), a solo project featuring new and recent work by renowned Chinese artist and freedom of expression advocate Ai Weiwei. The series will kick off right before Free Speech Week (Oct. 16–Oct. 22) with a public conversation at the Newseum Oct. 14 featuring Washington Post correspondent William Wan on his experience covering China and international human rights.
“As the national museum of contemporary art, the Hirshhorn is committed to exploring the diverse and thought-provoking ways that artists respond to the world in which they live—most recently through our exhibit by the prolific Chinese dissident and human rights activist Ai Weiwei,” said Hirshhorn Director Melissa Chiu. “We are thrilled to continue the conversation that ‘Trace’ presents surrounding Ai’s inspiring advocacy for freedom of speech through this upcoming series with the Newseum.”
Two events will be hosted at the Hirshhorn’s Ring auditorium in October and December focusing on the power of art to raise awareness and spark action. The panel discussions will include renowned contemporary artists, including Pedro Reyes (b. 1972, Mexico), Laurie Jo Reynolds (b. 1968, U.S.), Hank Willis Thomas (b. 1976, U.S.) and Tania Bruguera (b. 1968, Cuba), as well as Creative Time chief curator Nato Thompson and The New Yorker journalist Evan Osonos, among others.
An additional conversation at the Newseum will be held in November that will explore the role of freedom of expression, government censorship and human rights concerns around the world.
“Freedom of speech and expression are essential to a strong and open society—something Ai Weiwei and others have long fought for,” said Cathy Trost, senior vice president of exhibits and programs at the Newseum. “We look forward to our upcoming program series with the Hirshhorn, which will provide some of the world’s most influential artists, journalists and activists with the unique opportunity to debate meaningful issues that are at the heart of our democracy.”
This event series is part of the Hirshhorn’s diverse range of free public programs, which invite today’s leading innovators in art, design, music and technology to explore ideas that shape 21st-century culture. Seating is limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis.
Ai Weiwei: Trace at Hirshhorn
Saturday, Oct. 14; 2:30 p.m.
The Newseum’s Knight TV Studio, Level 3
In partnership with the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, the Newseum presents a conversation with Washington Post correspondent William Wan on his experience covering China and international human rights.
Wan is the Post’s roving national correspondent, based in Washington, D.C. He previously served for three years as the Post’s China correspondent in Beijing. Wan, who has met and interviewed Ai, will discuss the impact of Ai’s art on the world and will discuss human rights conditions in China and the impact of Communist Party policies on the people in that country.
Thursday, Oct. 26; 6:30 p.m.
Ring Auditorium, Hirshhorn
In the spirit of Ai’s commitment to driving social and political change, the first installment of “In Conversation: Awareness, Action and Dissent” will explore the power of art to raise awareness and inspire action amid politically and culturally tumultuous times. Nato Thompson, artistic director of Creative Time, a public arts organization, will lead a wide-ranging conversation with headline-making artists Laurie Jo Reynolds, Pedro Reyes and Paul Ramírez Jonas on how their art directly confronts legislative and social issues and engages contemporary audiences.
Tuesday, Nov. 14; time to be announced
The Newseum’s Knight TV Studio, Level 3
Margaret Huang, executive director of Amnesty International USA, talks about her work as an advocate for human rights and racial justice. Ai has teamed with Amnesty International in the past to advance various human rights issues, including last year’s worldwide campaign against cyber censorship. In 2015, the organization presented Ai with the Ambassador of Conscience Award, its top award for human rights. Huang is responsible for advancing the vision and mission of the organization, working with Members of Congress, the United Nations and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.
Thursday, Dec. 14; 6:30 p.m.
Ring Auditorium, Hirshhorn
For the second installment of “In Conversation: Awareness, Action and Dissent,” the panel will continue to explore the power of art to raise awareness and inspire action amid politically and culturally tumultuous times. The New Yorker journalist and former Beijing bureau chief Evan Osnos will moderate the discussion between artists Tania Bruguera, Hank Willis Thomas and Eric Gottesman. Bruguera, Thomas and Gottesman have made headlines in both the art world and political world, recently by standing up for freedom of speech and through the creation of the first art-based Super PAC.
About the Hirshhorn
The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden is the national museum of modern and contemporary art and a leading voice for 21st-century art and culture. Part of the Smithsonian, the Hirshhorn is located prominently on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. With nearly 12,000 paintings, sculptures, photographs, mixed-media installations, works on paper and new media works, its holdings encompass one of the most important collections of postwar American and European art in the world. The Hirshhorn presents diverse exhibitions and offers an array of public programs on the art of our time—free to all, 364 days a year. For more information, visit hirshhorn.si.edu.
About the Newseum
The Newseum promotes, explains and defends free expression and the five freedoms of the First Amendment: religion, speech, press, assembly and petition. Headquartered on historic Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C., the Newseum’s compelling, dynamic and engaging exhibits, programs and education initiatives help ensure that these fundamental freedoms remain strong and protected both today and for future generations. The Newseum Institute promotes the study, exploration and education of the challenges confronting freedom through its First Amendment Center and the Religious Freedom Center. The Newseum is a 501(c)(3) public charity funded by generous individuals, corporations and foundations, including the Freedom Forum. For more information, visit newseum.org and follow it on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
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