Kinan Azmeh
Kinan Azmeh

The Watermill Center is kicking off its Scaler Lecture Series this week, a series of six discussions with innovative voices in the arts, sciences, and humanities, many of whom will discuss the role of art in situations of social conflict.

Art in Times of Crisis

The series begins this coming Tuesday, Aug. 2, with Syrian clarinet virtuoso Kinan Azmeh discussing “Art in Times of Crisis” at 7:30 p.m.

Mr. Asmeh has been hailed as a “virtuoso” and “Intensely Soulful” by The New York Times and has been called “spellbinding” by The New Yorker. His distinctive sound across different musical genres is quickly gaining international recognition.

Born in Damascus, Mr. Kinan was the first Arab to win the premier prize at the 1997 Nicolai Rubinstein International Competition, Moscow. He is a graduate of New York’s Juilliard school as a student of Charles Neidich, and of both the Damascus High institute of Music and Damascus University’s School of Electrical Engineering. Mr. Kinan earned his doctorate degree in music from the City University of New York in 2013.

Kinan has appeared worldwide as a soloist, composer and improviser.

Click here to make a free reservation for Kinan Azmeh’s lecture.

BG Muhn on North Korean Art

Sea Rescue in the Dark, 1997 | Kim Song Kun and others
Sea Rescue in the Dark, 1997 | Kim Song Kun and others

The series continues on Thursday, Aug. 4 at 7:30 p.m. with a discussion with artist BG Muhn on “Contemporary North Korean Art: Complexity Within Simplicity.”

Art is huge in North Korea. The Mansudae Art Studio in Pyongyang is the largest government-supported art community in the world. Artists and artworks are highly regarded throughout the country.

But for the outside world, it remains an unexplored territory. Is there “art for art’s sake” in North Korea? Is all of the art produced there entirely propaganda and nothing else? How accurate is general perception of North Korean art in the West?

Professor Muhn will discuss the scope and variety of artistic expression of North Korean art and its meaning in the contemporary art world.

His firsthand research, including interviews of numerous artists, art historians and faculty members and students of the prestigious Pyongyang Art College, will culminate in his forthcoming book on the subject.

Click here to make a free reservation for BG Muhn’s lecture.

How to Look Inside The Brain

Carl Schoonover
Carl Schoonover

On Tuesday, Aug. 9 at 7:30 p.m. neuroscientist Carl Schoonover will discuss “How To Look Inside The Brain.”

Our understanding of the brain depends in large part on the tools we have invented to look at it. This talk will present a whirlwind survey ranging from the earliest attempts to interact with this extraordinarily complex organ.

The talk will begin with medieval sketches and intricate drawings by groundbreaking scientists such as Leonardo da Vinci and Santiago Ramón y Cajal, culminating in the revelations achieved through the use of cutting edge biotechnology and imaging.

Carl Schoonover is a postdoctoral fellow in the Axel Laboratory at Columbia University, where he studies the neural circuitry of odor-driven behaviors. His doctoral work in the Bruno Laboratory at Columbia University focused on microanatomy and electrophysiology of rodent somatosensory cortex.

He is the author of Portraits of the Mind, has written for The New York Times, Le Figaro, and Scientific American, and he co-founded NeuWrite, a collaborative working group for scientists, writers, and those in between.

His radio program on WKCR 89.9FM, focuses on opera, postwar classical music, and, occasionally, their relationship to the brain.

Click here to make a free reservation for Carl Schoonover’s lecture.

Aboriginal Traditions in Australian Culture

On Wednesday, Aug. 10 at 7:30 p.m., theater director and writer Wesley Enoch will discuss “Aboriginal Traditions in Contemporary Australian Culture.

Wesley Enoch
Wesley Enoch

This lecture will kick off Enoch’s workshop with Watermill Center founder Robert Wilson of their upcoming production “Songlines,” a commission for the Sydney Festival.

Wesley Enoch is a Noonuccal Nuugi from Minjeeribah (Stradbroke Island) and is the Director of the Sydney Festival for 2017 to 2019.

He has been a theater director and writer for more than 25 years, specializing in Aboriginal Theatre and cultural stories.

As a freelance director and writer Mr. Enoch has worked with virtually all the large theater companies, arts centers and festivals in Australia and has won many awards, including The Patrick White Playwrighting Award, Helpmann Awards for best production and best new Australia work and Matilda Awards.

Click here to make a free reservation for Wesley Enoch’s lecture.

Democracy Matters with Dr. Cornel West

Cornel West
Cornel West

In his Democracy Matters presentation on Tuesday, Aug. 16 at 7:30 p.m., Dr. Cornel West will impart a message of love, equality, and justice, with a focus on the American democratic experiment and a broader, global humanitarian context.

Through the lens of the African American freedom fighting tradition, Dr. West will discuss the 2016 political climate, Socratic self-examination, police brutality, social activism and more.

Mr. West is a Professor of Philosophy and Christian Practice at Union Theological Seminary and Professor Emeritus at Princeton University. He has also taught at Yale, Harvard, and the University of Paris. Cornel West graduated Magna Cum Laude from Harvard in three years and obtained his M.A. and Ph.D. in Philosophy at Princeton.

He has written 20 books and has edited 13. He is best known for his classics, “Race Matters” and “Democracy Matters,” and for his memoir, “Brother West: Living and Loving Out Loud.” His most recent book, “Black Prophetic Fire,” is an unflinching look at nineteenth and twentieth-century African American leaders and their legacies.

Click here to make a free reservation for Dr. Cornel West’s lecture.

too, stop the war with Mary Ellen Carroll

Mary Ellen Carroll
Mary Ellen Carroll

Conceptual artist Mary Ellen Caroll will close out the series on  Thursday, Aug. 18 at 7:30 p.m. with a discussion on the use social and government infrastructure in the creation of art.

Ms. Carroll will discuss her ongoing research on these materials, which expand the meaning of performance, including her trademark for NOTHING™ and the work of the same title.

There will be a special performance commissioned for this occasion by the singer/songwriter Nina Nastasia and a brief introduction by Professor Koenig.

Despite an oeuvre spanning more than twenty years and a disavowal of any signature style, Ms. Carroll has throughout her career been investigating a single, fundamental question: What constitutes a work of art?

The results are a multifarious, provocative and often wry outpouring is in policy, architecture, writing, performance, photography and filmmaking. Ms. Carroll’s work interrogates the relationship between subjectivity, language, and power. At its core is a dedication to political and social critique.

Click here to make a free reservation for Mary Ellen Carroll’s lecture.

Beth Young
Beth Young is an award-winning local journalist who has been covering the East End since the 1990s. She began her career at the Sag Harbor Express and, after receiving her Masters from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, has reported for the Southampton Press, the East Hampton Press and the Times/Review Media Group. She founded the East End Beacon website in 2013, and a print edition in 2017. Beth was born and raised on the North Fork. In her spare time, she tinkers with bicycles, tries not to drown in the Peconic Bay and hopes to grow the perfect tomato. You can send her a message at

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