SOAPBOX; noun – a box or crate used as a makeshift stand by a public speaker : a soapbox orator; with reference to a situation in which someone expresses strong opinions about a particular subject.
Where can we find examples of positive representations of older people? If not in the media at large, possibly here in Tate Britain? Many of the artists on display worked well into old age and were perhaps stronger due to this experience.
Exchange views and share opinions
When artist Suzanne Lacy created Silver Action, a large scale performance in Tate Modern in 2013, she brought together around 500 women ‘near or beyond the age of 60’ to talk about the points in their lives when they had felt they needed to take action politically – whether on a grand or a small scale. She wanted women’s voices and stories to be written into history, to be shared, listened to and witnessed.
After this inspirational project we wanted to create a space for older voices at Tate. The Soapbox project enables us to share a platform, to exchange views and celebrate each other’s experience. Shouldn’t we give more space and more time to the authentic voices of older people? Isn’t the Museum exactly the right place to exercise our freedom of expression?
Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; that this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers. Communication is a fundamental social process, a basic human need and the foundation of all social organisation.
So if you see someone up on a soapbox at Tate Britain – don’t give them a wide berth. Stay and become part of the action.