Soapbox Event at Federal Hall (some explicit language used)
Warning, this video contains some explicit language
PIA LINDMAN: SOAPBOX EVENT
Reinventing Forms of Free Speech
Location of first event:
Federal Hall National Memorial
26 Wall Street, New York City
Date: April 5, 2008
Time: 2:00-5:00 PM
SOAPBOX; Used for traditional `soapbox style' posts, where people stand up and give their opinions on a topic, sometimes in quite emphatic terms. Such talk frequently leads to other people getting on their own soapboxes to engage in discussion and debate.
In Soapbox Event, Lindman pares down the structure of democracy to the elemental forms of free speech: human bodies, live voices, and space. This performance investigates the construction and breakdown of collective structures, and how they influence individual expression in democratic decision-making. The event highlights the relationship of embodied speech to the bare life of an individual, in the context of increasingly mediated communication.
Soapbox Event is a participatory performance created by Pia Lindman. Participants are given one soapbox each, which entitles them to one minute of free speech. They may form coalitions and stack their boxes together to obtain greater spatial presence and talk time. The spokesperson of a coalition may speak for as many minutes as there are stacked boxes. As the event evolves, boxes begin to express changing rhetorical configurations in sculptural forms.
The site -- formerly New York City Hall and Customs House, currently Federal Hall National Memorial -- epitomizes freedom of speech in America. In this place, newspaperman John Peter Zenger was tried for seditious libel against the Royal Governor; with his 1735 acquittal winning a major victory for the free press in America; George Washington delivered his inaugural presidential speech from the balcony in 1790; and Yayoi Kusama held her Naked Event on the steps in 1969. We are pleased to present Soapbox Event amid this splendid tradition of speech acts.
GROUND RULES FOR THE SOAPBOX EVENT
- each participant will be given one soapbox
- with the soapbox, each participant is also given one minute of free speech
- participants may form coalitions
- the soapboxes of the members of a coalition can be stacked together to create a higher speech podium
- a representative of a coalition may speak as many minutes as there are stacked boxes (members in the coalition)
We will not be using microphones or any amplifiers. Obtaining greater height serves to elevate a speaker and have their voice project better into the space.
LECTURES AND WORKSHOPS
In preparatory lectures and workshops Pia Lindman discusses ideas embedded in the Soapbox Event, such as public space, political performance, democracy and freedom of speech. Her focus is on how democracy and free speech are embodied and performed in contemporary cultures.
Workshops are the playground for future Soapbox Events. The workshops are improvisational and their structure depends on the mixture of people attending. The main objective is to learn useful strategies and invent rules for the coming events - and to have fun.
Soapbox Event at Federal Hall National Memorial was curated by Sandra Skurvida and was made possible, in part, by the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council with the generous support of the September 11th Fund.