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Lookup NU author(s): Dr Ian McDonald, Dr Geetha Jayaraman


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FREEDOM is a four-screen filmic installation for the gallery space that responds to the visit of Dr Martin Luther King Jr to Newcastle in November 1967 to receive an honorary doctorate. Archive footage of Dr King’s impromptu acceptance speech is set within an immersive visual and visceral experience of contemporary protests from both sides of the Atlantic juxtaposed with rarely and some unseen archive footage of Enoch Powell’s controversial visit to Newcastle. FREEDOM also offers a space for reflection with a fourth screen where the three oceans meet, a unique place at the tip of India (Kanyakumari) visited by King on his pilgrimage to what he called the ‘Land of Gandhi’. The intention was to construct an immersive experience that challenged visitors to reflect on the politics of racism in terms of a past-present-future dialectic. Underpinning the practice was a political analysis based on a critique of treating Dr King not only a historical / commemorative figure. The work suggests that an understanding of MLK and of his visit then can only be attained engaging in the continuing struggle against ‘racism, war and poverty’ now. Equally, the work posits that an effective strategy in the struggle against racism today without an understanding of previous struggles such as the Civil Rights Movement will produce forms of mindless activism! In short, we were acutely aware that even though we were making a film for the gallery space, it should still have strong documentary value rooted in a commitment to progressive change and influenced by the tradition of observational cinema. FREEDOM was exhibited at the Great North Museum from October to December 2017, then at the Sallis Benney Gallery in Brighton in May 2018. FREEDOM was awarded the Best Practice Prize by the British Association for Film, Television and Screen Studies in 2019. (300 words) (three-screen) pw:King2017 (single screen) pw:King2017

Publication metadata

Author(s): McDonald I, Jayaraman G

Publication type: Digital or Visual Media

Publication status: Published

Year: 2017

Contents: A three screen film installation (22 mins) and a single screen installation (10 mins).

Publisher: The Great North Museum

Place Published: Newcastle upon Tyne

Type: Online streaming


Notes: Winner of the Best Practice Research Award (Audio-Visual Installation), British Association of Film, Television and Screen Studies, 2019. Available at URLs: (three-screen) pw:King2017; (single screen) pw:King2017