Free Speech Zone


We installed Free Speech Zone in 2004 in the second-floor mezzanine of the Brooklyn Public Library Main Branch at Grand Army Plaza.

The second-floor mezzanine of the Brooklyn Public Library

The second-floor mezzanine of the Brooklyn Public Library

The installation consisted of two electronic triptychs, measuring 12 ft wide and 3 ft high. We photographed portraits of library users blindfolded on site at the library. Their images book-ended an LED zipper sign that displayed passages and titles from censored and challenged books.

Electronic triptych on the mezzanine of the Brooklyn Public Library

Electronic triptych on the mezzanine of the Brooklyn Public Library

To bring attention to the issue of censorship, we reinstalled Free Speech Zone in September, 2005,  in the front entrance of the Donnell Library Center during Banned Book Month.

Entrance of the Donnell Library at night

Entrance of the Donnell Library at night

In addition to the installation, we organized a reading of challenged books in collaboration with PEN American Center and the National Coalition Against Censorship. Judy Blume, Deborah Hautzig, Robert Lipsyte, Walter Dean Myers, Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, Peter Sis, Rita Williams-Garcia read from their challenged and censored books.

This was the first live event streamed over the internet by a branch library of the NYPL. You can see it here: Free Speech Zone reading.

Viewer looking at the right-side triptych

Viewer looking at the right-side triptych

Passersby would stop to read statements and titles from challenged and banned books.

Free Speech Zone at the entrance of the Donnell Library

Free Speech Zone at the entrance of the Donnell Library

View from across West 53 Street in front of MoMA.

Free Speech Zone from LigoranoReese on Vimeo.