Part 1 of 4
Freedom of Speech


Exhibitions, screenings and
events exploring the multiple meanings of freedom
in contemporary society

10 September –
19 October 2009

Free to Air is a series of exhibitions and events that will extend across London over a four-year period. Taking as its starting point Roosevelt’s famous ‘four freedoms’ – freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom from want and freedom from fear – it sets out to explore some of the multiple meanings of ‘freedom’ in contemporary society. Freedom of speech and freedom of expression provided the focus of ‘Free to Air 2009’.

Each year a major new commission will be showcased at two London venues, whilst an accompanying programme of screenings, events and workshops will be presented in galleries and cinemas across London’s boroughs. Follow Free to Air on Facebook or Twitter.

Download translations in Bengali, French, Gujarati, Somali, Spanish.

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Freedom of speech and freedom of expression provide the focus of Free to Air 2009. Encompassing a major new moving-image work by Suki Chan, at 198 Contemporary Arts & Learning and A Foundation, London, and a parallel screening programme, entitled Figures of Speech, which considers how artists have used video and film to open up new forms of representation, Free to Air also incorporates a mentoring programme for two emerging artists living and working in London.

Free to Air is a Film and Video Umbrella project. It is funded by London Councils and is presented in collaboration with A Foundation and 198 Contemporary Arts & Learning, London.


A newly commissioned
video installation by Suki Chan,
presented at A Foundation
and 198 Contemporary Arts
& Learning

Suki Chan — Sleep Walk, Sleep Talk
A Foundation, London (outdoor projection)
10 – 12 September 2009

198 Contemporary Arts and Learning
(twin-screen installation)
14 September – 19 October 2009

A London of fast-blinking lights and speeding commuters, where cars and trains leave luminous comet-trails marking their passage through the night, and where individuals reflect on freedom in the urban metropolis, or seek escape from the repetitive habits and conditions it enforces.

Inspired by ideas of freedom of expression in contemporary society, Suki Chan’s new video installation is an impressionistic study of London’s diverse population. Chan contrasts the movements of people on their way to and from work with their individual efforts to enjoy free time – exploring how we create our own personal and psychological space outside the architectural restrictions and behavioural patterns imposed by life in the city.

Chan's work weaves together a series of evocative video portraits highlighting people’s different responses to the hubbub of London life. Groups of skaters, unimpeded by traffic, move freely through the twilight city, tracing their own intuitive map of the metropolis. Nigerian security guards gatekeeping a deserted high-rise office block compare the ‘freedom’ of London with their rhythms and aspirations of their former life. While city commuters embody the mundane, monotonous regularity of our everyday urban existence.

Commissioned and presented in collaboration with A Foundation and 198 Contemporary Arts & Learning and funded, as part of Free to Air, by London Councils.
Venue Information


A screening programme
curated by Melanie Keen,
presented at artsdepot,
Iniva at Rivington Place,
Shortwave Cinema and
PM Gallery & House

Figures of Speech

Saturday 5 September, 2pm
Iniva at Rivington Place

Tuesday 22 September, 6.30pm
Shortwave Cinema

Monday 12 October, 7.30pm
PM Gallery & House

Thursday 15 October, 7.30pm

This curated programme of experimental film and documentary, from the last 25 years, reveals how artists have used the voice (its presence and absence) as a tool to examine the complexity of human relationships. Experimenting with form, technique and narrative, these filmmakers have utilised iterative speech patterns, dissonant utterances, mute gestures and an array of linguistic propositions to articulate concerns around exile, disorientation and loss as well as commemoration, celebration and recuperation.

In some films the spoken word, manifest through talking and singing, is juxtaposed with inscriptions that represent the implied voice conveyed through letters and other personal correspondence. This approach provides a structural framework by becoming part of a sophisticated image/sound montage. In several works the fractured voice of multiple narrators overlays and intercuts footage or stills imagery to disrupt a linear narrative; in others, the absence of the voice (the silent film) acts as a powerful metaphor for the gap between what is understood or expressed and what is untranslatable or lost in the act of translation.

Conventional forms of expression, permitted forms of expression as well as transgressive acts are deployed and challenged within these single screen works. Duration 100 mins.

Part One — Familial Ties
The films and videos in this section explore the intimate and fragile nature of familial relationships, which are bound together by longing and desire as powerfully as they are sheared apart by exile and loss. Each of these works sets its imagery against the rhythmic pulses of singing and the cadence of familiar and unfamiliar speech.

Mona Hatoum – Measures of Distance, 1988
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15:33 minutes. Collection: Lux
Letters written to Mona Hatoum from her mother in Beirut create the poetic narrative and the visual structure in Measures of Distance. The letters – recited by the artist in a monotone that belies the intensity of the emotions rippling through the written words – appear as Arabic text on the screen. Edited together with taped conversations in Arabic between mother and daughter, the aural dissonance between the two languages reveal two women disorientated by loss, separation and yearning.

Alia Syed – The Watershed, 1994
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8:06 minutes. Collection: Lux
Watershed is a film about the pain of speaking, where speech falls back on itself, carving a space in where touch is reciprocated. The tension is ramped up by each intense sweep of hair, each sensual stroke and the urgent desperate voice.

Inge ‘Campbell’ – Legacy, 2006
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17:41 minutes. Collection: Lux
Legacy explores the impact of the history of slavery on family relationships, specifically those between a mother and a daughter. The taut, yet revelatory conversation between the artist and her mother surges through the film and punctuates each physical act of nurturing that they share; mother and daughter rarely speak to each other on screen, but their narrated dialogue takes them to a greater, more profound place of reconciliation.

Nina Mangalanayagan – Lacuna, 2009
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11 minutes. Collection: the artist
In this performative work, the artist attempts to communicate using a physical gesture known as the ‘Indian head nod’ which is part of a South Asian vernacular. Each tilt of the head reveals a growing frustration with its flawed enactment. The subtitles, a further layer of narrative, are fragments of the artist’s personal experience as she tried to reconcile differences between herself and her Tamil family particularly her father. The silence in Lacuna emphasises how gestures can simultaneously create misunderstandings and new ways of understanding.

Keith Piper – Go West Young Man, 1996
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3:46 minutes. Collection: Lux
In Go West Young Man, a father and son explore the ways in which popular myths have shaped their divergent experiences; their call and response, as echoed through the chanting voices, underlines the significance of oral histories in passing on knowledge and cultural memory. The narration, its pace and fervour, parallels the rapid montage of historical moments that have influenced Western perceptions of black masculinity.

Part Two – Voice, Speech and Language
If speech is spoken language and language is seen to carry meaning, it would follow that the voice is a vehicle for words. In the journey from childhood to adulthood, we transfer our interest from voices to words, from the aural to oral. These films give equal weight to the power of the voice and words, and also serve as a reminder that the voice exists in time only and cannot be frozen.

George Chakravarthi – Genesis, 1999
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3:47 minutes. Collection: the artist
Filmed in real time, Chakravarthi displays minute shifts in facial expression and physical emotion. With the absence of sound, the viewer is asked to make assumptions about the mood and feeling being expressed. In a world where sight has primacy over sound, must we believe that his tears convey sadness and his laughter suggests joy? Silence creates the volume and intensity in this work.

Isaac Julien – Territories, 1984
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24 minutes. Collection: the Artist
Territories is an experimental documentary looking at life in Britain in 1984 through the prism of Carnival as a form of political expression. Presented in two parts – each part looking at public and personal spaces as sites of resistance respectively – Territories is negotiated through the flow of the narration by different voices sometimes male and sometimes female, delivering the same lines repeated over and over again. The role of narration is two-fold: it acts as commentary on territories which reflect the multiple agendas of race, class and sexuality; and conversely, it describes the approach of conventional documentary-making in order to subvert that approach by breaking up the film’s narrative through altering and repeating visual and oral sequences.

Zineb Sedira – Autobiographical Patterns, 1996
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9 minutes. Collection: the artist
Autobiographical Patterns refers to the practice of henna-drawn hand designs common to many Islamic countries. The artist is seen writing an autobiographical text in French onto her own hand. With each word obsessively etched onto her skin, the text becomes obscured and the act of inscribing her fiction reaches a screaming pitch of intensity. The silence imbued in the act of writing emphasises the limits of speech and the difficulties of being heard or even understood.

Nisha Duggal – Machine, 2007
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2:14 minutes. Collection: the artist
In Machine, individuals are examined and their mannerisms observed, repeated and dissected to the point of obsession. Simple everyday events are recorded, for example a cough or infectious laughter ricochets across the screen; each fragment of the experience or event is pixellated and broken down. A tension is created between the independent agency of the participants and the artist’s attempt to manipulate and invent an alternate order.

Erika Tan – Exercises in Phonological Stretching from PIDGIN: interrupted transmission, 2001
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6 minutes. Collection: the artist
Exercises in Phonological Stretching is a series of reading-to-camera pieces by non-English mother-tongue speakers. Each person reads texts transcribed from English into the closest approximates of their own language and script. The result is an audible assault course in which the viewer/listener/receivers’ expectations of communication and comprehension are challenged.


Presented at 198 Contemporary
Arts & Learning

Featuring contributions
from Free to Air development
artists Eileen Perrier and
Grace Schwindt

A series of events accompanying Suki Chan’s exhibition held at 198 Contemporary Arts & Learning, with contributions from Free to Air development artists
Eileen Perrier and Grace Schwindt.

Events are free, for information and to book your place or call 020 7978 8309

Deepa Moodgal
An introduction to Meditation

Wednesday 23 September, 7–9pm

Meditation is a continuous flow of perception or thought like flow of water in a river. — Hatha Yoga Pradapika.

Picking up from Suki Chan’s studies of meditation in Sleep Walk, Sleep Talk, this event presents an introduction to the practice by Deepa Moodgal, the founder of Lambeth-based organisation DeepaSpirit which promotes meditation as a significant part of yoga practice and everyday grounding. Please bring a cushion or a blanket to sit on.

Eileen Perrier
Send and Receive

(An Open Dialogue)
Saturday 26 September, 12–4pm

Based upon her latest artistic research, Eileen Perrier invites you to join an open dialogue event to share experiences of sending and receiving goods between countries of origin and countries of residence. Whether you are a sender, a receiver or a second-generation observer, Eileen is interested in hearing your recollections of these personal exchanges of correspondence and possessions. Please note that this event will be filmed and will form part of the research and development towards Eileen Perrier’s project.

Grace Schwindt

Only a Free Individual can Create a Free Society
(Open Dialogue/Performance)
Thursday 1 October, 6.30–9pm

Revisiting discussions she witnessed as a child surrounded by radical leftwing adults, Schwindt is interested in exploring freedom as a philosophical notion. The questions 'is it possible to live a truly free life' and 'who has the right to claim it' will be discussed in a collaborative performance with artist Klaas Hoek and will include screenings of Schwindt's work in progress.

Suki Chan
Suki Chan was chosen by a selection panel from an open submission process as the artist for Free to Air 2009.  Suki Chan was born in Hong Kong and currently lives and works in London. She graduated with BA (Hons) from Goldsmiths College, London, 1999 and completed an MA in Fine Art at Chelsea School of Art, London, 2008. Chan has participated in solo and group shows, artist residencies and research projects in the UK and internationally including: El Tanque, Spain; Comme Ca Art, New York, USA; PKW, Singapore and Upriver Loft Arts Space, China. Recent shows include: Futuremap 08, David Roberts Art Foundation, London, 2008; Sequence and Repetition ll, Jerwood Space, London, 2007 and Reversing Horizons, Shanghai Museum of Contemporary Art, China, 2007. Her work is in numerous publications, and public and private collections.  

Development Artists 

Each year, as part of Free to Air, two London-based artists are selected by a panel, through an open submission, and are offered the opportunity of a six-month mentoring and research development programme with Film and Video Umbrella. Drawing upon the skills and experience of staff within the organisation, artists are required to identify specific aspects they would like to focus on in order to further develop their practice. Development programmes may vary from acquiring new technical skills or receiving curatorial and presentational feedback. For Free to Air 2009 the panel selected artists Grace Schwindt and Eileen Perrier.  

Grace Schwindt
Grace Schwindt was born in Germany and currently lives and works in London. She studied at the University of Westminster and completed an MA in Fine Arts at the Slade School of Fine Art in 2008. She has exhibited nationally and internationally participating at group shows which include EASTInternational, Norwich; S1 Salon at S1 Artspace, Sheffield, UK; Jeune Creation, Paris, France and ‘Territories, Identities, Nets’ at the Museum of Modern Art, Ljubljana, Slovenia. She has received the Boise Travel Scholarship to produce a work in NYC next year and is currently participating in the Associate Artist Programme at LUX.  

Film and Video Umbrella’s Free to Air development award to Grace Schwindt is supporting a number of facets of the artist’s practice, which encompasses video, performance, photography, drawing, and other wall-based works. In line with the theme of Free to Air, Schwindt was given an open brief on what ideas (and skills) she chose to develop in collaboration with the organisation, and is currently exploring and extending what, for her, are long-standing preoccupations, all highly relevant to the reflection on freedom of expression that is central to the first year of the project. Among these are Schwindt’s interests in the shaping influence of political discourse, and the power of interpersonal debate and exchange, in both articulating ideological positions and moving beyond them. While Schwindt’s development phase with the organisation is practical as much as theoretical (adding to her existing film-making expertise), much of this thinking will manifest itself in an Open Dialogue/Performance at 198 Contemporary Arts & Learning entitled ‘Only a Free Individual Can Create a Free Society’. 

Eileen Perrier
Eileen Perrier was born in London where she lives and works. After graduating from The Royal College, her work has been widely exhibited since 1999, including The Photographers’ Gallery, London and Tate Britain, London, UK. Her work was also part of the touring exhibition ‘Africa Remix’, which included the Hayward Gallery, London and The Centre Pompidou, Paris. In 2008 The Whitechapel Gallery commissioned Perrier to take part in ‘The Street’ — a year-long series of artists’ commissions on and around Wentworth Street. This year, Perrier will be doing a residency in collaboration with Autograph ABP and Light Work, USA.  

Eileen Perrier's development bursary with Film and Video Umbrella involves a shift in medium from her usual practice of photography. For over a decade, Perrier's primarily portrait-based photographs have exhibited widely in the UK and abroad. In the six months that she will be working with Film and Video Umbrella, however, she will be gathering material (and picking up additional know-how) for what will be her first film project, provisionally entitled 'Send and Receive'. This work in progress will record an equally evolving process, namely the to-and-fro of cherished goods and other personal items between countries of origin and countries of residence, which follows in the wake of people migrating abroad. A filmed discussion event, also called 'Send and Receive', taking place at 198 Contemporary Arts & Learning in September, will provide a focus for this research, and a platform for an exchange of stories and material. Eileen Perrier will hold an Open Dialogue at 198 Contemporary Arts & Learning.

A Foundation
Rochelle School, Arnold Circus, London E2 7ES
020 7729 8275 /
Opening Hours / Projection: 7.30 – 9.30pm (Free entry)
Nearest tube: Old Street

198 Contemporary Arts & Learning
198 Railton Rd, London SE24
020 7978 8309 /
Opening Hours: Monday – Saturday, 11am – 5pm
and Sunday 18 October, 11am – 5pm (Free entry)
Nearest tube: Herne Hill / Brixton

5 Nether Street, Tally Ho Corner, North Finchley,
London N12 0GA
For bookings please call 020 8369 5454
Nearest tube: West Finchley / Finchley Central / Woodside Park

Shortwave Cinema
10 Bermondsey Square, London SE1 3UN
For bookings please call 020 7357 6845 or email
Nearest tube: London Bridge / Bermondsey

Please note this screening date has been changed to 12 October, rather than 12 September as publicised in Free to Air brochure

Iniva at Rivington Place
Rivington Place, London EC2A 3BA
For bookings please call 020 7749 1240 or email
Nearest tube: Old Street / Liverpool Street

Please note this screening time has been changed to earlier time of 6.30pm, rather than 7.30pm as publicised in Free to Air brochure

PM Gallery & House
Walpole Park, Mattock Lane, London W5 5EQ
For bookings please call 020 8567 1227 or email
Nearest tube: Ealing Broadway

For further information on Free to Air please contact:

Film and Video Umbrella
8 Vine Yard, London, SE1 1QL
020 7407 7755 /

For further information on exhibitions contact:

A Foundation
Rochelle School, Arnold Circus, London E2 7ES
020 7729 8275 /

198 Contemporary Arts & Learning
198 Railton Rd, London, SE24
020 7978 8309 /

To receive regular updates on Free to Air, including details of exhibitions, events and screenings please enter your email address below:


Free to Air 2009 is commissioned and presented by Film and Video Umbrella in collaboration with A Foundation and 198 Contemporary Arts & Learning and is funded by London Councils.

Selection Panel
Karen Alexander (Freelance Consultant)
Steven Bode (Director, Film and Video Umbrella)
Lucy Davies (Director, 198 Contemporary Arts & Learning)
Nina Ernst (Deputy Director, Film and Video Umbrella)
Melanie Keen (Freelance Curator)
Mark Sealy (Director, Autograph ABP)
Mark Waugh (Director/Curator, A Foundation)

Cultural Ambassadors
Chris Rawcliffe
Alex Charlemagne
Connie B
Mel Larsen (Cultural Ambassador Scheme Co-ordinator)

Free to Air Cultural Ambassadors

A Foundation
A Foundation programmes substantial exhibition spaces in Liverpool and London. During Autumn 2009 it will present a suite of projects under the title of ‘Beyond the Boundary’ exploring the complex architectural ecology surrounding its London site at Rochelle School on the historic Boundary Estate. A Foundation, London is a thriving community of artists, designers and home to the renowned Rochelle Canteen. In 2009, A Foundation, London hosted Bloomberg New Contemporaries, degree shows for the Royal College of Art and Chelsea School of Art, and the judging of the BP Portrait Award. It is the location the forthcoming BBC documentary, ‘The Best of British’.

198 Contemporary Arts & Learning
Located in Brixton 198 Contemporary Arts & Learning was created by Zoe Linsley Thomas, John Morgan and Clarence Thompson MBE, in response to the social unrest of the 80s. Known initially as Roots Community, 198 has grown from a community arts space, which helped nurture the Black Arts movement, into a contemporary visual arts organisation searching out artistic excellence and investing in emerging talents. 198 is a pre-eminent cultural space in Brixton, which explores the rich diversity of artistic practices informed by globalisation and emerging cultural identities. 198 fosters creative synergies through a challenging artistic and education programme, which explores economic and social change; and their effects on visual culture.

Film and Video Umbrella
Film and Video Umbrella commissions, curates, produces and presents film, video and other moving-image works by artists that are staged in collaboration with galleries and other cultural partners across the UK. Since the late 1980s, Film and Video Umbrella has been at the forefront of this vibrant and expanding area of practice, promoting innovation through its support of some of the most exciting figures on the contemporary scene. During this time, the organisation has commissioned and produced over 100 different artists’ projects, ranging from ambitious multi-screen installations to shorter film and video pieces, as well as numerous online commissions.

Project Partners

Funded by

Download Press Release.

For further information please contact Janette Scott
07966 486156 /

or Hannah Barnes
020 7407 7755 /

Website design
OK-RM (Oliver Knight & Rory McGrath) with
Electronest (Jerome Rigaud & Pierre Schmidt)

The Free To Air website has been designed to make it as widely accessible as possible, so that everyone, regardless of ability and technology, can use the website. This page gives information on features included on the site to make this possible.

Cascading Style Sheets (CSS)
We use Cascading Style Sheets to control website page design, along with the size and colour of text. We use CSS as it is not dependent on any additional technologies apart from your web browser or screen reader.

Font sizes and colour
You can set your own preferred styles for font size and colour through your web browser. If you would like to know more on changing these settings, the BBC website has an excellent guide for most modern browsers. Visit the BBC website accessibility page

Semantic markup
We use semantic HTML markup to aid making sense of page structure. For example, text headings, page content, links and main navigation menu links, are clearly marked up as such.

We have used a common accessible design throughout this website rather than providing text only pages for disabled users. No part of the website is dependent on the use of colour for navigation or conveying content.

We have used plain English in the text content of the website.

Links and navigation
Wherever possible, links are written to make sense when read out of context. Many browsers (such as JAWS, Home Page Reader, Lynx, and Opera) can extract the list of links on a page and allow you to browse the list separately from the page.

A Film and Video Umbrella Project
Part 1 of 4
Freedom of Speech
September –
October 2009