Location: LONDON, United Kingdom
Completion date: 2016
Artwork budget: $10,000
SOCIAL PROTEST is 457 individual protests in 279 photographs taken across 31 towns/cities in 8 countries with 5 signs in one year. The performative survey is now compiled in a 300 page sculptural book.
SOCIAL PROTEST was an investigation with the individual. Giving them a moment of power to protest and demonstrate in their city. This moment was captured through photographs. Using the symbol of protest- a cardboard sign, and the fun of bold colour, I was able to interview strangers from around the world and check the pulse about weather protest is powerful or pointless. This was a self initiated public work, and really an experiment in using art to be a catalyst for engagement.
I started this travelling work in order to create a dialogue between the pedestrian and the online concerned citizen. I was inspired by political movements like the Social Protest in Jerusalem in Summer 2011 and Occupy Wall Street, the Arab Spring movement and artists like Gillian Wearing. My aim was to engage the everyday person asking strangers at random on the street in front of an iconic site, "If you could protest anything what would it be?" I then photographed each person who selected a colour to their message, and organised every photo by location, protest message, and colour. I uploaded images online and a dialogue continues there. And then I compiled it all into a book. I worked with designer Michael Lum to consolidate all the data: photos, messages, and colours into an object that would make the reader the data analyst, the viewer, the protestor. The cover is removable - one side silkscreened text and the other a solid colour matching the protest signs, encouraging the reader to take action!
SOCIALPROTEST had many transformations: a performance, photography project, a sociological survey, Facebook conversation, exhibition and finally a physical book. At every stage it was about engaging the public and making the work as accessible and inclusive as possible. The core message of the process and the outcome was to give voice and a platform to hear messages that are often not heard or drowned out as they are nuanced and complex. The video here is a Kickstarter campaign funding the printing of the book as an edition. Having crowd sourced public opinion it seemed democratic to crowd source distribution. https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1052136299/social-protest