Late last month, MLK Jr. Memorial Library celebrated intellectual freedom with an opening night party for UNCENSORED: Information Antics, an all media public art exhibition. The party kicked off the library’s Banned Books Week, an annual event that highlights the value of free and open access to information.
Banned Books Week brings together the entire book community –- librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types –- in shared support of the right to inquire and to articulate ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular.
UNCENSORED: Information Antics focuses on the how we gather knowledge in today’s world. Local artists illustrate the concept of censorship in the digital age through photography, video, installation and sound. Surrounded by a multitude of ways in which data is collected, expurgated and disseminated viewers explored how the digital age of our world uses and abuses intelligence.
One of the exhibit’s murals, Detail from Section 215 by Hasan Elahi, combines images of the National Security Agency’s rooftop with Section 215 of the Patriot Act (transposed in Morse code). Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act, also referred to as the “libraries” provision, allows the government to gain access to patrons’ library records without their knowledge.
Another startling piece in the exhibit, DC Crime Map by Michael Dax Iacovone, marks locations of specific crimes such as homicide, sexual assault, shots fired and more.
Lively cocktails inspired by classic banned books were very popular among guests as they mingled about and around the artwork. For example, the “Shug Avery” cocktail was inspired by Alice Walker’s The Color Purple.
Participating mixologists include Adam Bernbach from 2 Birds 1 Stone, Phil Clark of Mockingbird Hill, Philip Green, Author, To Have and Have Another – A Hemingway Cocktail Companion and Brand Ambassador, Hemingway Rum Co., Papa’s Pilar Rums, Trevor Frye of Jack Rose Dining Saloon, Chris Libby of Zaytinya, Duane Sylvestre of Collectif 1806 and Chantal Tseng of Redeye Menus.
The party – a fundraiser for the DC Public Library Foundation – featured live music from local musicians including Baby Bry Bry & the Apologists, Delafield String Band and Reginald Cyntje, a pop-up market curated by event chair Jennifer Barger.
Funds raised from this event will supplement the DC Public Library Foundation’s goal of supporting local artists and D.C.’s growing arts and culture scene.
The exhibit is on display at the MLK Library from September 25 to October 22.