The Agency for Legal Imagination is pleased to present Fictive Witness, a yearlong series of lecture-performances by artists Tali Keren and Alex Strada. Keren and Strada have invited a range of scholars to provide a layer of narration to their silent film Save the Presidents. Mabel Wilson’s lecture, “Dead Presidents: A Lexicon of Land, Race and Nation” will center on a series of alphabetical entries related to themes underlying the film.
The United States draws its core mythologies, like Winthrop’s “shining city on a hill,” from the land. As Europeans conquered the fecund wilderness of the New World, colonizers turned land into “property” by violently displacing indigenous peoples and enslaving Africans to cultivate its bounty. This ensured that white settlers before and after the American Revolution would gain in wealth as well as grow in number. “The origins of property rights in the United States,” observes scholar Cheryl Harris are “rooted in racial domination.” The contradiction in how enslaved labor built national monuments like Washington D.C., the White House, U.S. Capitol or Jefferson’s Monticello offers a symbolic lexicon for how land, race, and nation animate the American imaginary.
The event is organized by The Agency for Legal Imagination operating throughout 2018 at MINI/Goethe-Institut Curatorial Residencies Ludlow 38.
With the kind support of the Artis Grant Program
30 Irving Place