Curatorial Initiatives
Kant's Essay

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Perpetual Peace Project at the New Museum

Part of the The Last Newspaper, a discursive exhibition gathering various agencies and working groups together

New Museum of Contemporary Art
235 Bowery, New York
October 6, 2010 to January 9, 2011

About the Installation

Although peace is a topic that has long interested artists, the Perpetual Peace Project does not seek to showcase artists or artworks. Rather, it seeks to frame the discourse about how peace is negotiated and understood by encouraging discursive moments within the space of the New Museum of Contemporary Art. Through seemingly minimal gestures, including media stations and a variety of social situations, we reclaim the space of the museum for dialogue, interaction, and reflection about our project and the issues it raises.

Media stations are scattered throughout the building in ancillary spaces including the lobby, stairwells, and hallways. Viewers are invited to view selections from the Perpetual Peace Project film initiative, which features practitioners, philosophers, and the public in conversation about contemporary prospects for reducing geopolitical conflict. These media stations culminate in a shared space for public programming within the galleries, which is simultaneously shared with the other artists and organizations featured in The Last Newspaper. A variety of seating arrangements will occur within this space over the course of the exhibition, ranging from the formal to the informal.

The project also includes an intimate reading room in the small stairwell gallery. Providing a semi-private retreat from the public nature of the rest of the exhibition, this room invites visitors to further engage with Immanuel Kant's foundational essay Perpetual Peace: A Philosophical Sketch (1795), newly republished and available here. It allows a respite for the public from the more specialized discourse contained within the media stations throughout the museum. Reprinted in the french fold tradition of Kant's time, our publication invites the reader's active participation to access the text concealed within. Blank pages interspersed throughout the book offer a space for contemplation and individual contribution.

In addition, we have invited students from Beaconhouse National University in Lahore, Pakistan--whose voices are otherwise excluded or invisible--to share their thoughts. This softly amplified audio recording will add another layer of voices to the subject of peace, and is emblematic of the variety of cultural exchanges that the Perpetual Peace Project has undertaken across a variety of spaces both private and public.

About the Public Programs

The installation will provide a forum for ongoing workshops and seminars by invited guests and lecturers.

Listen to documentation of past events and learn about upcoming programs.


The Perpetual Peace Project is an initiative of the Slought Foundation, in collaboration with the European Union National Institutes of Culture, the International Peace Institute, Syracuse University Humanities Center, and the United Nations University.

Our project at the New Museum has been organized by Aaron Levy of Slought Foundation and architect/designer Ken Saylor. The media excerpts featured in this exhibition are directed by Laura Hanna, Alexandra Lerman, and Aaron Levy, with Gregg Lambert as Executive Producer. Production equipment provided by ScribeLabs. Graphic design by Project Projects. Exhibition design by Saylor + Sirola.

The Last Newspaper, the larger exhibition at the New Museum of which it is a part, is co-curated by Richard Flood, Chief Curator, and Benjamin Godsill, Curatorial Associate.

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