Brooklyn Public Library Hosts Epic 6-Hour “Evening of Concepts”

A Brooklyn event that was once held in the Central Library at Grand Army Plaza from sunset to sunrise can now be enjoyed from the comfort of your home, wherever it is this year.

Virtualizing the 6th annual Night of Ideas at the Brooklyn Public Library may be a necessity due to the pandemic, but it also enables the Brooklyn-based programs to be used worldwide.

The six-hour event begins on Thursday, January 28th at 6 p.m. with a performance by New York poet and musician Patti Smith and lasts until midnight.

‘Night of Ideas’ is a collaboration with the cultural services of the French embassy. It runs in conjunction with the global 24-hour virtual program La Nuit des idées, coordinated by the Institut Français worldwide and streamed in 75 countries.

Historian, author and visual artist Nell Painter and Mexican political scientist and journalist Yuri Herrera. Image (lr): Dwight Carter / Lisbeth Salas

The Brooklyn Edition brings together artists, writers, critics, historians, and philosophers from across the community and beyond for six hours to explore the world’s most pressing ideas.

“As a new year and chapter in American history begins, we hope that Night of Ideas will serve as a platform for culturally engaged people in Brooklyn and around the world to come together and reflect on important civil and artistic issues our time to create an open community forum that is so hard to find in this moment of social distancing and division, ”said László Jakab Orsós, vice president of arts and culture at the Brooklyn Public Library.

The event was formerly known as the “Night of Ideas and Philosophy”. This year’s event will address questions such as, “How can artists correct their course for America if they look ahead?” and “How does the rest of the world see the United States a week after President Joe Biden’s inauguration?”

Artist Ai Weiwei. Photo: Ai Weiwei Studio

It opens with a conversation between artist Ai Weiwei and New York Times opinion editor Peter Catapano about how artists can make course corrections for America in the future.

“The image of America does not correspond to reality,” says Weiwei in a section of the event. America has gone through a long period of development since its inception, portraying the struggle for human rights, freedom of expression, and rule of law and democracy.

“As an ideology, America is a troubled quest that has generally been perceived as a solid reality.”

The Egyptian-American journalist and activist Mona Eltahawy and the British writer Hari Kunzru. Photo (lr): Robert E. Rutledge / Clayton Cubitt

BPL will then air an original short film with New York filmmaker Astra Taylor that will provide a monologue on what it means to offer solidarity in a critical time like ours in this critical time, as well as monologues on what America awaits from Thinkers like Suketu Mehta, Nell Maler, Peter Catapano, Jamieson Webster and Renata Salecl.

Brooklyn Public Library press secretary Fritzi Bodenheimer said that while the event will look a little different this year, it will be no less excited by writers, artists, filmmakers, musicians and philosophers from around the world looking for new ways to to foster the community in our midst common isolation.

“The event is free and open to everyone. Whether you stay up late or come to see us early, we know you will be delighted.”

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