In The Movements of Speech, I use the lens of performance to examine the social conditions underpinning freedom of speech. The work focuses on the orators at Speaker’s Corner, a public space in London designated for enacting one’s freedom of speech. The act of speech is put through a process of abstraction and translation, bringing to the fore crucial, ancillary factors such as gender performativity, public/private contexts and authoritative relationships.
An abstracted score is developed outlining the spatial, legal and performative components of Speaker’s Corner. In the performance, the score is co-opted and the confident movements of the speakers are appropriated to conduct an improvised music ensemble. Bookended with intimate rehearsal footage, the process is chaotic and ultimately futile, as the protagonist plays out an abstracted fantasy of authoritative performance. The act of speech – stated in western legal constitutions as a freedom equally accessible to everyone – is examined as part of an interwoven network of social conditions that ultimately determine its delivery.