Martin Firrell is a public artist and has been dubbed a ‘cultural activist’, known for provoking public conversations of social value and credited by the Guardian as ‘one of London’s most influential public artists’. Recent projects include ‘Fires Ancient’ and ‘Fires Modern’, two simultaneous projections – on the National Theatre Southbank façade and the dome of St Paul’s Cathedral – commissioned by Artichoke for London’s commemoration of the 350th anniversary of the Great Fire. ‘1967’ builds on the success of Firrell’s 2016 work ‘All Identity Is Constructed’ (allidentity.com) which called for greater identity equality using digital billboards and social media with a reach of 3 million people across the UK. The project won the 2016 UK industry award for best digital campaign.
Firrell this year marks the 50th Anniversary of the 1967 Sexual Offences Act with a series of interventions, including a takeover of digital billboards across England and Wales. On 27th July 1967, The Sexual Offences Act made it possible for gay and bisexual men in England and Wales to have sexual relationships for the first time without being automatically criminalised. In response to this milestone in LGBT+ history, public artist Martin Firrell will present a commemorative public art project with the support of Peter Tatchell, world-renowned human rights and social justice campaigner.
On 27th July 2017 Firrell will take over national digital billboards in England and Wales, re-presenting key ideas from the history of the gay liberation movement. Supported by Clear Channel and Primesight, leaders in digital out-of-home media, the ‘1967’ anniversary billboards will bring powerful messages about freedom and equality to audiences across the country.
Firrell will also use the anniversary as a platform to raise new debate and call into question the value of gender labels, asking: what would happen if we abolished gender entirely; where would the harm or the benefit lie?
‘1967’ will also look at the future of equality policies in an artist-led Gender Thought Experiment. 200 influential leaders in business, culture and policy will be invited to a launch event hosted at the iconic Lloyd’s building to explore the value of gender labels, the abolitionist case, and the implications in their own spheres of influence.
‘1967’ invites journalists, broadcasters and commentators to add to the debate about the value of gender labeling and the case for abolition.
To what extent do you believe gender labels serve us?
Is it right that the gender label assigned at birth predetermines the opportunities available to individuals for the rest of their lives?
What would it really mean if gender labels were to be abolished altogether?
What is your view? Join the conversation.