Occupy Wall Street

Soapbox Event/Federal Hall Documentation PART 1

Soapbox Event/Federal Hall Documentation Part 2


Pia Lindman thanks everyone who showed up at the Federal Hall in April; volunteers, speakers, film crew... you helped create a truly energizing event!  

41 speakers delivered speeches almost non-stop. We will post excerpts of these recordings here shortly.  

If you have any questions or would like to contribute to this project by volunteering or otherwise, please contact Pia by email, piuska@mit.edu. If you want to contribute by writing to this blog click on the link for instructions to participate.

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.

- 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.

Soapbox Event/Federal Hall Documentation Part 4

Soapbox Event/Federal Hall Documentation Part 5

Soapbox Event/Federal Hall Documentation, part 3

Soapbox Event/Federal Hall Documentation Part 6

Missile Dick Chicks on Soapboxes/Creative Time

About race, voting, and nature

Leeza Meksin on SPANDEX leggings

Poem about love


Soapbox workshop at Cooper Union
Posted here are comments by FIT students who participated in the workshop at Cooper Union on the 1st of March 2008.


Anonymous said...

Review- Soapbox Event

During the workshop held with the performance artist Pia Lindman at Cooper Union last Saturday, I found myself traveling through a range of emotions. Before the workshop began, I was nervous at the prospect of the task at hand-were we supposed to speak? and what would we speak about? I have had limited personal experiences in performance art, and couldn't help feeling as if I was going into something that I knew nothing about, which made me simultaneously uncomfortable and interested. As the project was further explained I grew increasingly fascinated in the Soapbox project as a whole, how our group interacted in response to it, and my own personal interpretations of the event.

The physical space of the small wooden soapbox is intended by the artist to be a representation of freedom of speech. Executed simply and without adornment, these boxes could be left as a single piece or stacked on top of one another, contingent upon the decision of those involved to either hold onto their own box or form a 'coalition' with others. The historical reference and physical trope of the Soapbox as a form of communication is obviously stated within its' physicality.

The interaction of our group and the soapboxes began when Professor Skurvida stood and recited John Cage's piece "I Have Nothing to Say," stating that although she did not have anything to specifically share she enjoyed the position of authority and power that she held over the rest of us (figuratively and literally, as the platform of the soapbox places the speaker on a higher physical plane, and our group was sitting below her on our boxes).

At this point, I found myself more interested in analyzing the behavior, motivations, and relationships that our class held with the interaction of our own boxes, and how it affected the group dynamic. Matthew decided to 'build' up four boxes, using his position and time on the box as one of playful entertainment. The boxes became a stage, and he was performing for us. He also associated this reach with his occupation, stating later that he wanted to 'check the light bulb,' thus using his position as one of power with the potential for usefulness. When Johanna, always a very vocal contributor to the class, stood on her box with the intention of not speaking, she was utilizing the concept of "I have nothing to say" in a literal sense. Ying then decided to physically surpass the height of Johanna and stack two boxes together to stand silent before her, and our gaze shifted to focus on him. I began to wonder if the silence was truly effective, or if the position of free speech was, when put into the context of either using it (in speech form) to your advantage or using the position (physically) it granted you for personal reasons, purely an excuse for attention. Another contributor used her box to tell a story, and Pia Lindman rose on her box and had to raise her voice and fight for our attention as she was interrupted by Johanna's loud and purposeful coughing.

All of these events raised certain questions. What does one do when given free speech, when one does not have to fight for it? Will you give away your privilege and let someone, perhaps someone that you deem better qualified, speak for you? Is silence powerful enough to persuade an audience? Are there limitations within freedom of speech? If one has set boundaries before him, will he break them (as our group did by 'stealing' other's boxes), corrupt them, or follow them?

I was also faced with an internal conflict of my own-I did not speak, but sat upon my box, as much of the others did, without taking my minute of 'free speech.' I wondered if I would regret the silence, if I would feel like I had lost my chance, and wondered what it was that made me want to hold on to the possibility of free speech without acting upon it.

All in all, I was impressed by the scope of inferences this project made me relate to, and the questions that it rose. I am also very impressed by the reflection of human connection and communicative interaction that this (seemingly) simple exercise was able to contain.


I was thinking quite a bit about what people would form together to fight for, and what makes them want to join together to form a coalition to speak strongly against or in favor of something. Since people seem to band together ery strongly for mutual hate, I was thinking we could pick something and as a group advocate against it. Does everyone else hate people who make out on the subway? You know, really loud, smacking kisses?

Joanna said...

5 one min speeches.

0ne Mississippi two Mississippi three Mississippi four Mississippi five Mississippi six Mississippi seven Mississippi eight Mississippi nine Mississippi ten Mississippi eleven Mississippi twelve Mississippi thirteen Mississippi fourteen Mississippi fifteen Mississippi sixteen Mississippi seventeen Mississippi eighteen Mississippi nineteen Mississippi twenty Mississippi twenty one Mississippi twenty two Mississippi twenty three Mississippi twenty four Mississippi twenty five Mississippi twenty six Mississippi twenty seven Mississippi twenty eight Mississippi twenty nine Mississippi thirty Mississippi thirty one Mississippi thirty two Mississippi thirty three Mississippi thirty four Mississippi thirty five Mississippi thirty six Mississippi thirty seven Mississippi thirty eight Mississippi thirty nine

0ne two three four five six seven eight nine ten eleven twelve thirteen fourteen fifteen sixteen seventeen eighteen nineteen twenty twenty one twenty two twenty three twenty four twenty five twenty six twenty seven twenty eight twenty nine thirty thirty one thirty two thirty three thirty four thirty five thirty six thirty seven thirty eight thirty nine forty forty one forty two forty three forty four forty five forty six forty seven forty eight forty nine fifty fifty one fifty two fifty three fifty four fifty five fifty six fifty seven fifty eight fifty nine sixty sixty one sixty two sixty three sixty four sixty five sixty six sixty seven sixty eight sixty nine seventy seventy one seventy two seventy three seventy four seventy five seventy six seventy seven.

come one come all-listen – lend me your ear- Do what Ellen did-shoop- we all live in yellow submarine-so I have no clue what I am doing-Personal insight – mental disorder - drugs-pills and powder-little green dots- stream of conscience-s.i.e.n.c.e.-art as speech- speech as art-political statement- its so not art yet the pictures will be-no they wont-what is art-I hate that question-words with out emotion-outlines-konchihogan-really I mean konchihogan-a waste of all our time- that’s life- so depressing- our quest to not waste time-our quest to waste time- simply getting through it-oh food-be right back-oh my god-what would Jesus do.

The Ballot or the Bullet, Malcolm X 1964: Good speech. I am prepared to die, Nelson Mandela 1963: Good speech. Choose life, Ewan McGregor, Trainspotting 1996: Good speech. True Childhood Confession, Jeff Cohen, The Goonies 1985: good speech. Give me liberty or give me death, Patrick Henry 1775: Good speech. The only thing we have to fear is fear itself, Franklin Delano Roosevelt1933: good speech. Closing Court Argument at the Robinson Rape Trial, Gregory Peck, To Kill a Mockingbird 1962: good speech .Chocolate City, Ray Nagin 2006: good speech. Blood, toil, tears, and sweat, Winston Churchill 1940: Good speech. True Story About a Cat Stuck Up One's Ass to Get the Gerbil Out, Jason Lee, Mallrats 1995: good speech. Here You Are All Equally Worthless!, R. Lee Ermy, Full Metal Jacket1987: good speech. The luckiest man on the face of the earth, Lou Gehrig 1939: good speech. The Golden Speech, Queen Elizabeth I 1601: good speech. This is a kill, Daniel Day-Lewis,Gangs of New York 2002: good speech. Dirty Tramp, Natalie Wood, Rebel without a Cause 1955: Good Speech Gettysburg Address, Abraham Lincoln 1863: good speech. Ask not what your country can do for you, John F. Kennedy 1961: good speech. The Greatest Trick the Devil Ever Pulled..., Kevin Spacey, The Usual Suspects 1995: good speech How to Fake Out Parents and Avoid School, Matthew Broderick Ferris Bueller's Day Off 1986: good speech

It’s only a min yet it feels like a million. To find the right words worthy of an audience is so difficult. What am I so afraid of? Being judged? I am my own worse critic. Every word I write is unworthy. Not interesting enough. Not funny enough. Not serious enough. Every person should be able to step up on said soapbox and feel that there words their thoughts are worthy of the crowd. No one should talk of blonde hair or count incisively as they have nothing else to say, trying to grasp at over exhausted creativity. Every one should be able to step up and speak of wisdom or humor. It should always be well received and we all deserve praise. So why does a minuet feel like a life time when you have nothing to say.

Matthew said...

Soap Box Homework

Are you one of half of all Americans who dislike their jobs? Are you part of the one third of Americans who have had a nervous breakdown? Then chances are… You’re stressed out!
Recent studies have shown that stress can:
• Decrease life satisfaction
• Increase illness
• Even shorten your lifespan
But don’t stress! All you need is peace of mind. That’s P-E-AC-E of M-I-N-D. Peace of Mind is an age-old concept where positive thought is harnessed to relax and calm a hurried mind. It’s completely safe and can be used by anyone, anytime, anywhere. Best of all, Peace of Mind is easy to use.
• Just breath in
• Breath out
• Relax, and remember…
“There are some things in life that are beyond our control and it could always be worse.”
It’s just that simple!
But wait there’s more… Peace of mind is 100% guaranteed to be absolutely FREE!
Peace of Mind is your choice when stress is not an option.

kat said...

the first anonymous comment seems to touch on a very important concept, the fleeting nature of speech.

Freedom of speech takes on such a literal context here that it raises internal issues of validity, or interest in, the words or ideas. The medium chosen relates directly o the power struggle that defines what speech is valued: is it louder? supported by more people, and therefore more prominent? is it humorous or wise?

However, the regret is the most compelling aspect. If you, as an individual feel regret for failure to take advantage of a chance to be heard in this exercise, what consequences does silence have in the "real world."

Anonymous said...

[speaker: Aliza Shvarts steps up onto a group of soap boxes to speak]

So empowerment is important, and this man has a point. We have an institution that infringes upon the rights of the individual; that’s really what’s at issue here. We’re talking about privacy of your own personhood. Privacy of your own selfhood versus the hegemony of power that surrounds us. Speech is a tool against that power, and it’s really one that’s kind of dwindling fast.

This is kind of an aside, but I just kind of wanted to say something about it. It’s really funny to me and I think it’s like a good metaphor about how, you can give people these boxes, and you can give them the right to speak, but you can’t make them make themselves heard. You know when people get up and just talk really quietly? None of us care. None of us hear them. Right? And that’s a problem. It’s a problem of sort of institutionalization. We’re used to things being marketed toward us. You’re used to someone getting up here, making grand gestures and getting your attention. And, you know, we’re conditioned that way. And why are we conditioned that way? And, you know. I think it’s already been touched upon, but I’ll just reiterate: Because we have this huge [expletive removed] institution telling us that’s what power looks like. That’s what empowerment looks like. It’s these patriarchal, you know, heteronormative trappings of a voice; of a right to speak. But really, I think we should think more about it. And I kind of got up here before, and talked about feminism, and sort of thinking about these larger issues, and what I’m really talking about –and what we’re both talking about—is sort of the right of your own personal self-expression. The right of your own selfhood, you know. And you...you got up here and talked about that too, you know? We’re all people. We all have interior spaces in our mind. And the only way we can ever express that is by externalizing it in speech. And you know, there are powers that want to stop us. There’s an institution around us, and we’ve all become used to sort of using those trappings of the institution to express ourselves. Using their language to put our thoughts in; which is wrong. This is where creativity comes in. This is where art comes in. This is where politics comes in. Strangely: The creative art. I think we need to sort of think about how we should really use new tools, innovate, express ourselves, because we’re all individual, unique people. Strangely, even though we all kind of look the same, and talk the same these days, and are told what to do by everybody and we follow like this man said: Like sheep. We need to stop being sheep. We need to figure out what it is we want to say and how we want to say it. Because that’s just as important. It’s not enough to have the right to say it if you don’t know what you’re going to say, and you don’t know how you’re going to make yourselves heard. This is a problem with feminism. This is a problem with queer rights. This is a problem with racism. This is a problem with every “ism.” You don’t have a language. They’ve taken language away from you. They’ve made it their own. You only have the institution. You have to work actively, creatively, innovatively to dismantle it. Complacency is over. Think. We need to think more creatively about this. I think this is the realm of art. I think people have to be like…stop being so dismissive about what art is; it has to stop hanging on the wall. It has to be something lived, breathed, every day. [end]

Anonymous said...

How brilliant! To retain in written form her speech from the video previously available on this blog, and without including the liking of her person, amounts to free speech with a protective mask on her face. Thank you, whoever you are, for having transcribed the speech here!

Political debating like watching superbowl

empowerment of public speech

Accentuate the Postitive

Inspiration for art and political action and Raging Grannies

Soapbox Event/Creative Time and financial crisis

Soapbox Event/Creative Time Political Art in the Margins

Victor Sheely on Soapbox Event/Creative Time

First day of Democracy in America, The National Campaign at the Park Avenue Armory NYC

Soapbox Event opened again with Democracy in America, The National Campaign exhibit at the Park Avenue Armory, NYC this Sunday 09/21/08. We kept the boxes going from 11AM to 10PM!! 
This was an energizing day with many interested and interesting minds, works, and speeches coming together.  Thank you Nato Thompson, for this bold, much needed, smart, inspiring, and fun show!  Thanks to Creative Time for taking on this risky and bold endeavor.  Thanks also to all the enthused and helpful volunteers!  
Personal thanks to Soapbox Production Manager Janine Slaker and Speaker Agent Loren Allston, who stuck it out all day long.  You gave me strength.
At the bottom of this page I have uploaded recordings of the speeches: check out The Missile Dick Chicks video below for something hilariously burlesque and the unplugged off-the-cuff Victor Sheely.

You still have a chance to participate! Welcome to the Soapbox Event next Friday and Saturday (09/26 from 12 to 3PM and 09/27 from 3PM to 6PM) at Park Avenue Armory!

Scroll down to the bottom of this page to find more videos.
Please post comments and speeches, and check in again.
Pia Lindman

Protest against Soapbox rules!/Creative Time

Soapbox Event/Creative Time Documentation Part 6

Soapbox Event/Creative Time Documentation Part 3