Freee, Every Shop Window is a Soap Box, 2010. Photograph by Thierry Bal

Freee, Every Shop Window is a Soap Box, 2010. Photograph by Thierry Bal

Artists Dave Beech, Andy Hewitt and Mel Jordan form the art collective Freee. Since 2004 they have used a variety of ephemeral interventions or ‘viral’ media – such as publications, journal articles, posters, T-shirts and the internet – to raise active critical discussion, confrontation and debate about the nature and function of the public sphere.

For example, in the 2006 work How to Talk to Public Art, Freee addressed existing public sculptures with a series of placards carrying slogans such as ‘there are no experts on happiness’ and ‘is it me, or do monarchs have an unfair advantage when it comes to being seen or heard?’ Freee’s Advertising Wants to Convert Our Desire For a Better Life Into A Desire to Buy Something (2008) staged a counter-advertising billboard campaign. Featuring the artists wearing sloganised bandanas carrying a text and covering their faces, the work recolonised the spaces of advertising in order to insert critical messages that called into question the mechanisms of the capitalist system.

For Re: Thinking Trade, Freee created Every Shop Window is a Soap Box, which appeared in the front windows of a disused commercial space in Liverpool’s city centre. A series of polemical slogans, the work clearly stated its provocative position and demanded an active political response from the reader.

In the artists' words:

‘Slogans ask for things to change. It is a common misconception today that slogans are authoritarian, illiberal and restrictive. Stokely Carmichael would have never used the slogan “Black is Beautiful” if he thought it simply stated a fact that we could understand without first changing ourselves and the world. The feminist slogan “The Personal is Political”, likewise, would only make sense once feminism had transformed our understanding of each of its keywords. If black is already (universally understood as) beautiful then we do not need the slogan “Black is Beautiful”, and if the personal is already (secured as) political then we do not need the slogan “The Personal is Political”. Slogans do not describe the world, they call up a new world to take its place.'

Freee at Liverpool Biennial 2010

Every Shop Window is a Soap Box, 2010
Billboard-sized photographs digitally printed on vinyl, applied to shop windows
Commissioned by Liverpool Biennial 2010
Exhibited at 52 Renshaw Street