Free Speech Zone

May 6, 2004 - June 26, 2004
Central Library, 2nd floor Balcony Cases
Free Speech Zone: Site-Specific Installation by Ligorano/Reese

The expansive powers of the Patriot Act, the explosion of the Internet and monopoly control over private media present new challenges to this country’s fundamental value of free speech.

Artists Nora Ligorano and Marshall Reese create an illuminated display exploring the effects of censorship on the library's community.

Artists Talk
Thursday, May 20 at 6 PM
Central Library
Trustees Room, 3rd Floor

Contact information:

The Exhibition

According to the American Library Association, almost half of the most acclaimed novels of the 20th century have been the target of ban attempts. Nora Ligorano and Marshall Reese created Free Speech Zone in response to increasing restrictions on free expression that quarantine protest to designated areas. The installation is the fourth piece in a series of interdisciplinary works by Ligorano/Reese focusing on the library and the collection as a site for cultural investigation.

The artists have transformed Brooklyn Public Library's balcony display cases into two sets of illuminated triptychs. The backlit portraits of individuals from the library's community represent the diversity of people impacted by censorship. The two middle window cases contain LED displays with a scrolling collage of passages from books that have been censored. Excerpts from landmark censorship cases, such as Ulysses, Naked Lunch, The Well of Loneliness, Lysistrata and The Tropic of Cancer alternate with recently challenged books, including Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, The Color Purple, Native Son and Heather Has Two Mommies. (A complete list of titles)

Nora Ligorano and Marshall Reese have been collaborating together for almost twenty years. Their installations, videotapes and artists books have been shown in the United States and Europe. They have exhibited at Cristinerose Gallery in New York and eyewash in Brooklyn. Ligorano/Reese were artists-in-residence at the Djerassi Resident Artists Program and the MacDowell Colony. Granary Books published their artists book Turning Leaves of Mind in a trade edition in 2003. They are recipients of numerous awards and grants, including support from the Puffin Foundation, Ltd., New York Foundation for the Arts, National Endowment for the Arts, the Jerome Foundation and Art Matters, Inc. Their video installation “The Last Minute” is currently showing as part of the “Corporal Identity” exhibition at the Museum of Arts and Design in Manhattan.

The artists gratefully acknowledge assistance from Materials for the Arts, NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, NYC Department of Sanitation and NYC Department of Education, as well as ImageKing Visual Solutions.

The Artist Talk is co-sponsored by Artists & Audiences Exchange, a public program of the New York Foundation for the Arts. The project is supported in part by funding from the Puffin Foundation, Ltd.