- ‘Til Victory is Won: 400 Years of Making Revolution and Inventing Utopia, an evening long teach-in marking the 400th anniversary of the arrival of first enslaved Africans to the shores of present-day Jamestown in 1619, featuring lectures by activists, historians, cultural critics, and artists exploring how Americans can work together to create a more radical, inclusive, and racially just future
- Pulitzer Prize winner and former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power on her new memoir The Education of an Idealist
Musician and performance artist BIlly Bragg in conversation with Democracy Now!’s Amy Goodman on his political pamphlets, The Three Dimensions of Freedom, and the accountability crisis in Western democracies
- Award-winning author Amitav Ghosh shares his latest work, Gun Island; a globetrotting, folkloric adventure about family and heritage
- An exhibition honoring the pioneering New York alternative art space Franklin Furnace, featuring works by Shirin Neshat, Willie Cole, Tehching Hsieh, Rashaad Newsome, and Jenny Holzer
- Curatorial collective Black Chalk & Co. presents Beautiful Words are Subversive, an exploration of Zimbabwean and African diasporic literatures through print, audio-visual, and performance works
- The launch of The Centre for the Less Good Idea at BPL, the first North American extension of artist William Kentridge’s Johannesburg-based arts incubator project; Kentridge, fellow artists, and curators will hear project pitches from New York-based artists in Fall 2019, culminating in an exhibition of work from both cities at BPL in Spring 2020
- The return of Library-favorites—Message from the Library—featuring musician and performance artist Laurie Anderson, Classical Interludes, Night of Philosophy, and LitFilm
Brooklyn Public Library (BPL), one of the largest library systems in the country, today unveiled the 2019 BPL Presents fall season, a series of socially engaged cultural programming that includes conversations and lectures with authors, artists, and scholars; music, dance, and theater performances; art exhibitions; and film screenings. Through its nearly 70,000 free programs a year, BPL continues to redefine libraries as centers for ideas and exploration that support personal advancement, provide opportunities for civic engagement, and strengthen the fabric of communities they serve.
“In the coming months, library patrons will be challenged and delighted by the extraordinary array of speakers, artists, and writers who make up our fall season,” said Linda E. Johnson, President and CEO of Brooklyn Public Library. “From Pulitzer Prize winner and former UN Ambassador Samantha Power—who in her new memoir offers an urgent response to what one person can do—to the Turtle Island Quartet performing their Grammy Award-winning project A Love Supreme: The Music of John Coltrane, we hope the diversity of these programs attracts and inspires people from across the borough.”
Throughout the fall the Library will host an exploration of timely civic and cultural issues including conversations with award-winning authors and thinkers including former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power, Billy Bragg, Amitav Ghosh, Benjamin Mosher, Angie Thomas, Andrew Marantz, Terry Tempest Williams, Eva Chen, and Jacqueline Woodson.
“This fall is especially meaningful to all of us at the library,” said László Jakab Orsós, Vice President of Arts and Culture, Brooklyn Public Library. "With our programing we are taking an uncompromising look into our collective memory especially when it comes to the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first slave ship on our shores. This is exactly where we see our role as a true public institution; fostering curiosity and relentlessly questioning the status quo.”
On Saturday October 26, BPL Presents will observe the 400th anniversary of the arrival of enslaved Africans to the shores of present-day Jamestown during a five-hour program titled ‘Til Victory is Won: 400 Years of Making Revolution and Inventing Utopia. Exploring how Americans can work together to create a more radical, inclusive, and racially just future for the United States and beyond, patrons will delve into American and trans-Atlantic history from 1619 to the present, offering the opportunity to engage with and participate in interactive lectures, conversations, and historical readings that focus on important junctions of our history. Invited guest lecturers, including Susan Burton, Greg Tate, and Robyn C. Spencer, will speak about liberation policies, the Civil Rights movement, mass incarceration, utopia, poetry and art as a tool against dehumanization, and more. For complete details about the evening, please click here.
BPL’s visual arts program continues to expand, and in fall 2019, the Library will feature multiple art exhibitions in its Central Library and across its branches. On view through October 15 is a tribute exhibition honoring the pioneering alternative art space Franklin Furnace and its enduring legacy as a catalyst of risk-taking cultural production in New York City. Including works by Shirin Neshat, Willie Cole, Tehching Hsieh and Rashaad Newsome, as well as a Jenny Holzer banner recreated specifically for Brooklyn Public Library, Franklin Furnace: Performance is Public explores the dynamics between free speech and public space, and between live performance and the archival process.
In October, the Library will present Black Chalk & Co. artist collective’s exhibition Beautiful Words are Subversive for which artists Nontsikelelo Mutiti and Tinashe Mushakavanhu will create works across print, performance, and audio-visual media, exploring notions of language and cultural production with a focus on Zimbabwean and African diasporic literatures. In December, BPL will launch The Centre for the Less Good Idea at Brooklyn Public Library, the first North American extension of artist William Kentridge’s Johannesburg-based arts incubator project. Kentridge, fellow artists, and curators will hear pitches from New York-based artists culminating in an exhibition of work by artists from both cities at BPL opening in January 2020. A two-artist exhibition, The Stars Down To Earth, will launch in January 2020 and feature work from photographer and sculptor Dario Robleto and photographer Mary Mattingly. The work incorporates storytelling sculpture, as well as work with found natural materials, and will take residence at both Central Library and Greenpoint Library, a new branch focused on ecology.
In addition to the fall programming, in October BPL will announce the winners of the fifth annual Brooklyn Public Library Literary Prize. Throughout the upcoming year, the BPL Presents season will continue its ongoing innovative Library-produced programming including the BPL-commissioned lecture series Message from the Library featuring musician and performance artist Laurie Anderson on November 3; the 12th season of BPL’s Classical Interludes, which provides free access to professional-caliber chamber music including Catalyst Quartet and Grammy Award winners Turtle Island Quartet; its partnership with Theater of War Productions, using theater to spark conversations within the community about issues such as race, social justice, and the impact of war, in an effort to promote healing and change; and in 2020, a new semester of University Open Air, the return of A Night of Philosophy & Ideas in collaboration with the Cultural Services of the French Embassy; and the LitFilm festival—please visit: https://www.bklynlibrary.org/bpl-presents
BROOKLYN PUBLIC LIBRARY 2019 FALL SEASON
*All programs take place at the Central Branch, unless indicated. *
Franklin Furnace Performance is Public – Artist Books in Action Monday, September 16, 6:30 – 8 p.m.
Franklin Furnace Senior Archivist Michael Katchen will guide patrons through the ways visual and performing artists use the medium of artist books to creatively address politics, race, and gender. Katchen and a panel of experts including Horace Brockington, curator of the 1980 exhibition, Dialects: Diverse Bookworks by Black and Hispanic Artists, and artist Chloë Bass to engage in dialogue with him and the audience.
Brooklyn Book Festival Second Read – Sontag: Criticism with Benjamin Moser and Others Sunday, September 22, 11 a.m. – 12 p.m. Brooklyn Borough Hall and Plaza, 209 Joralemon Street
Second Read is BPL’s series of live-criticism examining the work of contemporary and canonical classics. Susan Sontag, the author of seminal nonfictional works on photography, camp, illness and pain, as well as novels including the bestselling The Volcano Lover, died 15 years ago this coming December. With Benjamin Moser’s new biography of Susan Sontag landing in September, panelists Benjamin Moser (Sontag: Her Life and Work), Meghan O’Rourke (The Long Goodbye), Siddhartha Deb (The Beautiful and The Damned), and Jennifer Szalai of the New York Times reconsider the lasting contributions Sontag has made and what they tell us in 2019.
Billy Bragg Discusses Three Dimensions of Freedom with Democracy Now!’s Amy Goodman Wednesday, September 25, 7:30 – 9:30 p.m.
Co-presented with Greenlight Books. Musician and activist Billy Bragg will discuss his new work, a series of pamphlets titled The Three Dimensions of Freedom, in which he argues that accountability is the antidote to authoritarianism, and that without it, we can never truly be free.
Franklin Furnace: Performance is Public – Artist Books in Action Wednesday, October 2, 6:30 – 8 p.m.
Franklin Furnace senior archivist Michael Katchen will guide patrons through the ways performing and visual artists use the medium of artist books to creatively employ humor, satire, and parody. Katchen and a panel of experts will also compare historic artists’ books to contemporary artists’ books.
Amitav Ghosh on his latest novel Gun Island Thursday, October 3, 7:30- 9 p.m.
Award-winning author Amitav Ghosh discusses his globetrotting, folkloric adventure novel about family and heritage. Gun Island is the story of a man whose faith in the world and the future is restored by two remarkable women.
The New Yorker’s Andrew Marantz on social media and his latest work, Antisocial Monday, October 7, 7:30- 9 p.m.
New Yorker staff writer Andrew Marantz discusses his latest work, Antisocial, a deeply immersive chronicle of how the optimistic entrepreneurs of Silicon Valley set out to create a free and democratic internet—and how the cynical propagandists of the alt-right exploited that freedom to propel the extreme into the mainstream. Antisocial reveals how the boundaries between technology, media, and politics have been erased, resulting in a deeply broken informational landscape—the landscape in which we all now live. Marantz also sits with the creators of social media as they start to reckon with the forces they’ve unleashed. Will they be able to solve the communication crisis they helped bring about, or are their interventions too little too late?
Franklin Furnace: Performance is Public – Artist Talk and Reception Tuesday, October 15, 6:30 – 9 p.m.
In the culminating event to the Performance is Public exhibition, visionary artist and Franklin Furnace Founder Martha Wilson will discuss the pioneering art space’s enduring importance and radical history.
Pulitzer Prize Winner Samantha Power on Her Latest Memoir, The Education of an Idealist Monday, October 21, 7 – 8:30 p.m.
In her latest memoir, Samantha Power transports us from her childhood in Dublin to the streets of war- torn Bosnia to the White House Situation Room and the world of high-stakes diplomacy. Humorous and deeply honest, The Education of an Idealist lays bare the searing battles and defining moments of her life and shows how she juggled the demands of a 24/7 national security job with the challenge of raising two young children. Along the way, she illuminates the intricacies of politics and geopolitics, reminding us how the United States can lead in the world, and why we each have the opportunity to advance the cause of human dignity.
New York Times Best-Selling Author Angie Thomas Friday, October 25, 7 – 9 p.m.
Powerhouse YA author Angie Thomas joins us to discuss themes from her two New York Times bestselling novels about powerful young women who use their voices to effect change. The Hate U Give (HarperCollins, 2017), inspired by tragic real-life events, was made into a critically acclaimed movie in 2018. On the Come Up (HarperCollins, 2019) draws upon Thomas’ own experiences as a teen rapper and the power of hip hop.
‘Til Victory is Won: 400 Years of Making Revolution and Inventing Utopia Saturday, October 26, 7 p.m. to 12 a.m.
‘Til Victory is Won is the Library's observation of the 400th anniversary of the arrival of enslaved Africans to the shores of North America at present-day Jamestown, Virginia. Over the course of the evening, audience members will delve into American and trans-Atlantic history from 1619 to the present, participating in interactive lectures, conversations, historical readings that focus on important junctions of our history. Invited guest lecturers, activists and artists including Robyn C. Spencer, Susan Burton, Liza Jessie Peterson, Alicia Hall Moran, Aisha Hinds, Sherman Fleming, Charles E. Cobb, Jr., Geri M. Augusto, Judy Richardson, asha bandele, and Dorothy M. Zellner will discuss liberation policies, the Civil Rights movement, mass incarceration, utopia, poetry and art as a tool against dehumanization, alongside other topics and series. In partnership with the ACLU, NYU law professor Melissa Murray will discuss Loving v. Virginia. The night will end with a manifesto crowdsourced through audience members and finalized by participating editors, which will point the way to further engagement at the Library.
Classical Interludes: Formosa Quartet Sunday, October 27, 4 – 6 p.m.
The Formosa Quartet has played a leading role in actively commissioning new works, contributing significantly to the modern string quartet repertory. The ensemble is deeply committed to championing Taiwanese music and promoting the arts in Taiwan, as well as exploring diverse and adventurous mediums for string quartet.
Beautiful Words Are Subversive Curated by Black Chalk & Co., Tinashe Mushakavanhu and Nontsikelelo Mutiti Monday, October 28, 2019 – Sunday, January 5, 2020
Beautiful Words Are Subversive is an exploration of language, readings, and inscribed meanings, with a focus on Zimbabwean and African diasporic literatures, curated by Black Chalk & Co, a boutique creative agency which brings together writers, artists, designers, academics, and technologists to engender a new culture and new forms of publishing and creative production. Beautiful Words are Subversive, to be staged at different parts of the Library, will draw on a diverse, eclectic range of African and Zimbabwean literary and cultural material, as well as engage patrons to interact with and reconsider the Library’s rich catalog and holdings.
Message from the Library: Laurie Anderson Sunday, November 3, 7 – 8:30 p.m.
Musician and performance artist Laurie Anderson will present the Message from the Library. The series asks leading cultural figures to reflect on today’s most precarious issues.
Green Series: Terry Tempest Williams on “Erosion: Essays of Undoing” Friday, November 8, 7 – 8:30 p.m.
Terry Tempest Williams, November’s Green Series speaker, is one of the nation’s most impassioned defenders of public lands. A naturalist, fervent activist, and stirring writer, her new essays explore the concept of erosion: of the land, of the self, of belief, and of fear. Looking at the current state of American politics—the dire social and environmental implications of recent choices to gut Bears Ears National Monument, sacred lands to Native People of the American Southwest, and the undermining of the Endangered Species Act—she testifies that climate change is not an abstraction, citing the fight outside her door and at times, within herself. BPL’s Green Series provides a forum for presentations by innovators in environmental conservation and understanding.
Book Launch: Juno Valentine and the Fantastic Fashion Adventure by Eva Chen Saturday, November 9, 1 – 2 p.m.
BPL and Stories Bookshop join together to present an afternoon of fun and fashion with Eva Chen for Brooklyn families. Chen will discuss her new picture book Juno Valentine and the Fantastic Fashion Adventure.
Classical Interludes: Bohemian Trio Sunday, November 10, 4 – 6 p.m.
This chamberlike improvising New York-based trio specializes in music of traditional Latin American origin. The piano, cello, and saxophone bring the diverse sounds and rhythms of Cuba and the Americas to life in an original brand of new music. With roots in Cuba, France, Trinidad, and the U.S., Bohemian Trio shifts intuitively among classical, jazz, and world music.
Classical Interludes: Curtis on Tour: Vera Quartet and Pianist Meng-Chieh Liu Tuesday, November 12, 4 – 6 p.m.
Winners of the 2018 Astral Artists National Auditions, the Vera Quartet is currently the String Quartet in Residence at the Curtis Institute of Music. The quartet received Grand Prizes at the Chamber Music Yellow Springs and Plowman Chamber Music Competitions, top prizes from the M-Prize Chamber Arts Competition, and the St. Lawrence String Quartet Prize from the Wigmore Hall International String Quartet Competition.
Classical Interludes: Carnegie Hall Citywide - Catalyst Quartet’s “Uncovered” Sunday, November 17, 4 – 6 p.m.
Presented in partnership with Carnegie Hall. Continuing the observation of the 400th anniversary of the first slave ships arriving in America and the important impact African Americans have had on music, “Uncovered” presents the music of African American composers Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, Florence Price, and Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson in concert.
Jacqueline Woodson on Red at the Bone: A Novel Tuesday, November 19, 7:30 – 9p.m.
Jacqueline Woodson—bestselling author and winner of the National Book Award—will discuss her extraordinary new novel titled Red at the Bone, in which two families from different social classes are joined together by an unexpected pregnancy and the child that it produces. Moving forward and backward in time, the book uncovers the role that history and community have played in the experiences, decisions, and relationships of these families, and in the life of this child.
Classical Interludes: Turtle Island Quartet Sunday, November 24, 4 – 6 p.m.
Continuing the observation of the 400th anniversary of the first slave ships arriving in America, Turtle Island Quartet presents their Grammy Award-winning project A Love Supreme: The Music of John Coltrane.
The Centre for the Less Good Idea at Brooklyn Public Library Exhibition: April – July, 2020
A panel including artist William Kentridge, fellow artists, and curators will hear pitches and offer feedback on artistic project proposals, adapting the arts incubator project started by Kentridge in Johannesburg, The Centre for the Less Good Idea. Pitching artists will be preselected from an open call and arts community outreach, with dates and details to be announced.
The Stars Down To Earth January 13– March 13, 2020 Central and Greenpoint Libraries
From wonders of the cosmos to urgent questions around habitable futures on earth, this exhibition brings together the scientific inquiries and complex visual systems of artists Dario Robleto and Mary Mattingly. Robleto’s work spans the mysteries of outer space and the human body, while Mattingly’s has been leading conversations around the role of the arts in sustainable futures and greening. The show includes Mattingly’s living sculpture and nature morte photographs as well as Robleto’s intricate sculptures comprised of fossils and other carefully sourced natural artifacts. Mattingly will lead a series of hands-on ecologically focused programs for all ages at BPL’s newly launched Greenpoint branch, serving as an artist ambassador for the branch’s ethos of sustainability and ecological awareness. At Central Library, Robleto will lead a performance lecture that will immerse patrons in the wonders of the universe and cutting-edge research.
Brooklyn Public Library gratefully acknowledges the many donors who have provided generous support for BPL Presents programs, including: Cheryl and George Haywood Endowment for Cultural Diversity, The Kahn Endowment for Humanities Programs, Dr. Beverly S. Jacobs, Janet Anderson, Todd Ferguson, The Miriam Katowitz and Arthur Radin Fund, Los Blancos, Mapleton Endowment, New York State Council on the Arts, Stavros Niarchos Foundation, The Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation, Sandra and Peter Schubert Endowment Fund, Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund, The Weissman Family Foundation, Inc., Cultural Services of the French Embassy, City Point, the Estate of Pearl S. Reuillard in memory of her parents Yetta and Louis Schwartz and many other generous supporters.
Programs are also supported by Brooklyn Public Library’s Fund for the Humanities which was established through the generous support of the National Endowment for the Humanities, The Hearst Foundation, Inc., Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation, The Starr Foundation, the Leon and Muriel Gilbert Charitable Trust, Henry and Lucy Moses Fund, Inc. and a gift in memory of Samuel and Pauline Wine.
WNYC is a media partner of the 2019 BPL Presents Season.
About Brooklyn Public Library
Brooklyn Public Library (BPL) is an independent library system for the 2.5 million residents of Brooklyn. It is the fifth largest library system in the United States with 60 neighborhood libraries located throughout the borough. BPL offers free programs and services for all ages and stages of life, including a large selection of books in more than 30 languages, author talks, literacy programs, and public computers. BPL’s eResources, such as eBooks and eVideos, catalog information, and free homework help, are available tocustomers of all ages 24 hours a day at our website:https://www.bklynlibrary.org.