Protest Drives History

Andrew Hewitt, Dave Beech, Mel Jordan

Research output: Non-Textual OutputArtefact


Even though Freee’s visual and language based interventions criticize the commercial and bureaucratic use of the urban environment, they occupy billboards, gallery spaces, and public sites. The groups artistic strategy is dialectical: on the one hand, it draws from avant-garde tradition by adopting the visual language of political dissent (for example, handwritten, handheld signs); on the other hand, it borrows mainstream media strategies, such as the use of big screens, and employ commercial-like aesthetics. Heavily influenced by Marxist theory, Freee aims at imagining a new social order by activating a collective and participatory space. Like in many of the artists’ other projects, Protest Drives History, is a direct expression of the collective’s interest in public action as a tool for social change. Originally exhibited as a banner and a billboard sign in London, the work also divulges a crucial aspects of Freee’s practice: the power of slogans to transform reality and to depict a society that does not yet exist. As a protest banner, Protest Drives History is a call for action, but it is a self-referential one that already forsees the change it wishes to generate. By doing so, the work not only blurs the borders between cause and effect, but it also questions the role of representation in Western societies. Freee’s inteventions open up a space for critical discussion and debate concerning the colonization of public sphere bu political and economic forces. Even more significantly, the collective’s work highlights the vital role of aesthetics in the formation of public opinion under capitalism. Yael Messer. Pp.108-111 Mom, am I barbarian? Guide. ISBN 978-605-5275-11-2 The curator of the 13th Istanbul Biennial, Fulya Erdemci is a curator and writer based in Istanbul.
Original languageEnglish
SizeBillboard Poster 12m x 3m
Publication statusPublished - 14 Sept 2013
EventIstanbul Biennial 2013: “Mom, Am I Barbarian?” - Istanbul
Duration: 14 Sept 2013 → …

Bibliographical note

The text artwork Protest Drives History has featured in many exhibitions, for example, in the exhibition An Intervention within 'Dissent and Certainty', Kunstpavillon Innsbruck 12.06.2014 - 26.07.2014, curated by Vlad Morariu. In Vectors of the Possible, part of the FORMER WEST Project, curated by Simon Sheikh for BAK, Utrecht, NL. 12 Sept – 28 Nov 2010. In Coalesce: Happenstance, curated by Paul O’Neill, SMART Project Space, Amsterdam, NL. 10 Feb – 22 Feb 2009. The artwork Protest Drives History was originally commissioned by Institute of Contemporary Art, London, for the ‘Nought to Sixty’ Exhibition, 5 May - 2 Nov 2008.


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