headlines | about |

Soapbox Event at Federal Hall National Memorial Participatory performance reinventing forms of free speech

Location: Federal Hall National Memorial
26 Wall Street, New York City

Date: April 5, 2008

Time: 2:00–5:00 PM

SOAPBOX (n): a post upon which people stand and give their opinions on a topic, sometimes in quite emphatic terms.

Soapbox Event is a participatory performance created by Pia Lindman. Participants are given one soapbox each, which entitles them to one minute of free speech. They may form coalitions and stack their boxes together to obtain greater spatial presence and talk time. The spokesperson of a coalition may speak for as many minutes as there are stacked boxes. As the event evolves, boxes begin to express changing rhetorical configurations in sculptural forms.

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.

The site — formerly New York City Hall and Customs House, currently Federal Hall National Memorial — epitomizes freedom of speech in America. In this place, newspaperman John Peter Zenger was tried for seditious libel against the Royal Governor; with his 1735 acquittal winning a major victory for the free press in America; George Washington delivered his inaugural presidential speech from the balcony in 1790; and Yayoi Kusama held her Naked Event on the steps in 1969. We are pleased to present Soapbox Event amid this splendid tradition of speech acts.

Pia Lindman has performed and exhibited internationally since 1994, including at P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, Museum of Modern Art, Sculpture Center, and Performa 2005, all in New York; at Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art, Helsinki; Galeria de Arte Mexicano, Mexico City; Keio University, Tokyo; and Beaconsfield, London. In 2008–2009 Lindman will be artist in residence at Künstlerhaus Bethanien in Berlin; currently, she is a lecturer at Yale University School of Art. Her work is in the collections of MoMA and the Queens Museum of Art. She is represented by Luxe Gallery, New York City.

Soapbox Event is curated by Sandra Skurvida and has been made possible, in part, by the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council with the generous support of the September 11th Fund.

Please see for more information, or contact Sandra Skurvida: or (917) 250-7251.

Soapbox Event card drawing 2.jpg84.51 KB