“Don’t Let the Media have the Monopoly on the Freedom of Speech”

Friend, artist and curator Ben Jones is currently completing a residency at ISIS Arts in Newcastle upon Tyne, UK. This forms part of his work for the MA in Curating at Sunderland University.

Ben is working with the ‘Freee Art Collective’ to the collectives text and photographic work ‘Don’t Let the Media have the Monopoly on the Freedom of Speech’.

Below is my first visual response to the original photograph.

Pete Hindle and myself had a really interesting chat with Ben about different approaches to this over at Isis. We talked about the use of social networks (like Facebook, Myspace and Bebo) and various services (like Flickr and Yahoo) that could be used to engage with people who agreed with the principle and could then adopt it and spread it further. One of my suggestions was to create billboards in Sketchup and then place them into Google Earth… a virtual intervention. Perhaps this is something I should add to my ‘Things to Do’ list.

After the discussion I went home and thought a little about what the sentence means from a UK adults perspective.

I began by questioning the reliability and independence of the press (which in Britain is often linked to the financial world) but then also in a broader world wide context looking at data on the Reporters Without Borders website. It reinforced my general belief that I am very lucky to live in the UK…

Then thinking about Freedom of Speech… I never thought here in Britain we had the Right to ‘Freedom of Speech’ as such but it is a right under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It was also really interesting to see the list of limitations published on Wikipedia. It made me recall the work I did at university about responsibility and freedom.

I also briefly discussed with Ben the potential for this image in cross-curricular work in schools particularly relating to Citizenship and PSME/PSHE (Pysical Social and Moral Education or Physical Social and Health Education depending on what the school might call it).

The programme of study at key stage three for citizenship in the National Curriculum outlines the breadth of key concepts and processes students should have the opportunity to explore. I think the following order is the one Ben’s project fits perfectly…

3.d. freedom of speech and diversity of views, and the role of the media in informing and influencing public opinion and holding those in power to account

National Curriculum Programmes of Study for Citizenship

Thinking about this cross-curricular connection I posted a link to Ben’s project on the North East Art Teachers Network


4 thoughts on ““Don’t Let the Media have the Monopoly on the Freedom of Speech”

  1. Ben says:

    Hi Elizabeth. I like the pic, is that you? Its very Vito Acconci. I’ll link to this from my site when I get into the studio later.


  2. Ben Jones says:

    This is a campaign to stop the large telecom companies becoming “Internet gatekeepers”, deciding which Web sites go fast or slow and which won’t load at all.

    They want to tax content providers to guarantee speedy delivery of their data. They want to discriminate in favor of their own search engines, Internet phone services, and streaming video — while slowing down or blocking their competitors.


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