SPEAKING OUT ON CENSORSHIIP

By Lisa Sopher

Published September 19, 2003, issue of September 19, 2003.

In May 1943, New Yorkers gathered together in Bryant Park to remember the tens of thousands of Nazi sympathizers who gathered on college campuses across Germany on May 10, 1933, to participate in the burning of some 25,000 books by scientists, philosophers, political theorists and poets labeled “degenerates” by the Nazi regime.

For the opening of Sheryl Oring’s installation “Writer’s Block: Bebelpatz to Bryant Park,” supporters of the written word will once again gather in Bryant Park, where eight writers — including Arthur Miller, Russell Banks and Jamaica Kincaid — will read from literature about the Nazi book-burnings and about more recent incidents of censorship and oppression.

Reflecting on today’s freedom to read and write, New York-based artist Oring created “Writer’s Block,” which comprises 18 metal cages filled with 540 prewar typewriters and is making its New York debut. Oring told the Forward she first came upon the idea for the installation after visiting the memorial for the book-burning at Bebelpatz, a square across from the University of Berlin in Germany, and after noticing many old typewriters at flea markets in Berlin. To Oring, typewriters simultaneously represent the typed orders issued by the Nazis and the free expression of ideas. The event is sponsored by the PEN American Center, National Coalition Against Censorship and American Bookseller Foundation for Free Expression.

Bryant Park, 42nd Street and Sixth Avenue; opening Sept. 30, 12:30 p.m.-1:30 p.m., installation through Oct. 12; free. (212-334-1660, ext. 105 or www.writers-block.org)



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