Programs + Presentations

A selection of large-scale public programs I’ve produced and lecture presentations I’ve given.


Monuments and Memorials: How Do We Remember?

Hill Art Foundation Teen Talk

With a grant from the Hill Art Foundation, I delivered an original lecture on memorials, monuments, and the aesthetics of public memory — in the wake of mass casualties from Covid-19 and popular uprising around Black Lives Matter. Paying attention both to the art historical contexts of the monumental landscape as well as its cognitive-emotional effects, I looked specifically to the AIDS Memorial Quilt and the National Memorial for Peace and Justice as thoughtful, living memorials that center healing and collective action.

Link to full video here.

July 15, 2020, via Zoom.

The Museum Meets the Legal Advocates: Unpacking a Collaborative Exhibition on Racial Injustice

Paper and presentation at the College Art Association annual conference, 2018

Participated in the session “African Americans and US Law in Visual Culture” with a paper detailing my curatorial work on the exhibition The Legacy of Lynching: Confronting Racial Terror in America, including the implications of the collaborative model and the exhibition’s timing. Text in full here.

February 2018, Los Angeles.

Symposium: Imagining Everyday Life: Engagements with Vernacular Photography

Co-producer

A two-day international symposium featuring twenty interdisciplinary speakers, organized in collaboration with Columbia University and Barnard College. The convening aimed to articulate the multiple definitions of vernacular photography within a newly expanded field of critical investigation—reconsidering the context and meaning of often overlooked photographic practices. I coordinated every aspect of the participants’ involvement, as well as graphics, scheduling, communications, and attendance. The symposium became the direct basis for the eponymous catalogue, which won the 2020 Paris Photo-Aperture Foundation Photography Catalogue of the Year.

Video documentation of all the papers and panels here.

Lenfest Center for the Arts, Columbia University. October 19-20, 2018. Photo courtesy of The Walther Collection.

The Brooklyn Conference: Inspiring Social Change

Lead coordinator

A major two-day convening throughout the whole museum exploring the intersection of art and social justice, a year after Trump’s election. With some 50 speakers, performers, facilitators spanning the visual and performing arts, activism, and politics, panels and breakout sessions examined racial and identity politics, immigration, disability access, indigenous rights, women’s issues, and policing. I worked alongside the museum director, conference producer, and several curators to craft an inclusive and engaging program and participant list, assist with outreach, write program copy, oversee logistics, and more.

More information and complete schedule here.

October 20-21, 2017. Brooklyn Museum.

Avant Museology Symposium

Lead coordinator

In collaboration with e-flux, to celebrate their publication of the same name, Brooklyn Museum invited sixteen distinguished speakers over two days to discuss contemporary museology. Responsible for all participant coordination, technology, and logistics. More info here.

November 11-12, 2016. Brooklyn Museum. Image: Coco Fusco and Guillermo Gómez-Peña. Two Undiscovered Amerindians Visit Buenos Aires, 1994. Photo courtesy of Coco Fusco

sara.softness@gmail.com