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Freee art collective explore the street kiosk’s ability to deliver social exchange

Freee art collective are made up of three artists, Dave Beech, Andy Hewitt and Mel Jordan, who work together on slogans, billboards and publications that challenge the commercial and bureaucratic colonization of the public sphere of opinion formation. Freee occupies the public sphere with works that take sides, speak their mind and divide opinion.

In December 2016, Freee used the space at NN Contemporary Art to present their new public kiosks for Freee-Carracci-Institute, a series of kiosks and a timetable of events and meetings with different groups and individuals. These ‘contributors’ engaged with the affect and transformed the project by adding to it. The ‘Social Kiosks’ were designed specifically for the publishing of opinions rather than advertising or publicity. The Kiosks were activated in Northampton town centre as well as displayed inside the gallery with numerous slogans, manifestos, props and billboard posters. Freee invited artists, designers, critics and theoreticians to create workshops and activities..

Freee questioned, what makes a kiosk social? Can the immediacy of exchange through a kiosk on the street be transformed to deliver social exchange as opposed to commercial exchange? Kiosks are more public, more intimate and more approachable than shops. They have a sociality that shops lack. By taking away the commercial profit-making utility of the kiosk, they hoped to capture its social dimension. The kiosk shows how socialism exists inside capitalism, trapped in financial exchanges we can see glimpses of a world of public exchanges. By taking away all retail aspects of the kiosk and replacing its branding and advertising with opinions and beliefs, Freee drew out its full social potential. 

Freee art collective utilise the ‘slogan-as-artwork’ as a method of publishing ideas through different formats and in various sites. Through their practice-based research they attempt to advance the debate around the concept of ‘public’ beyond the conventional spatial understanding of inside and outside; address the concept of protest and opinion formation through written argumentation (i.e. the content of the slogan itself as well as artwork as texts); and apply the logic of public sphere theory (Habermas: 1989, Fraser: 1993 and Warner: 2002) as a methodological framework for decision making in the project.

Read more about Freee-Carracci-Institute in an ‘in conversation’ between Freee’s Mel Jordan and Andy Hewitt, with Catherine Hemelryk