Popular Unrest

13mort776b.jpgMelanie Gilligan, Popular Unrest, 2010, film still

I’m just back from the Galleria Franco Soffiantino in Turin where i saw a pretty amazing creepy thought-provoking drama by Melanie Gilligan, an artist whose previous 4 part video Crisis in the Credit System received much attention back in 2008. I’ve just discovered that the 5 episodes of Popular Unrest are available online too. I wish i’d known before because the screening at the Turin gallery was as uncomfortable as humanly possible.

5maxlof96391e8.jpgView exhibition space

Popular Unrest is set in a fictional future that looks very much like today’s London. The drama explores a world in which the self is reduced to physical biology, directly subject to the needs of capital. All exchange transactions and social interactions are overseen by a system called ‘the Spirit’. Hotels offer bed-warming servants with every room, people are fined for not preventing foreseeable illness, weight watching foods eat the digester from the inside and the unemployed repay their debt to society in physical energy.

5751.Popular_2D00_Unrest.jpgMelanie Gilligan, Popular Unrest, 2010, film still

gym-520.jpgMelanie Gilligan, Popular Unrest, 2010, film still

MG_images_6.jpgMelanie Gilligan, Popular Unrest, 2010, film still

The film starts at the moment when things start to go wrong in the world that was so far impeccably controlled by ‘The Spirit.’ Unexplained killings are taking place across the globe. Sometimes the assailant strikes in public but no one has ever seen it/him. Just as mysteriously, groups of unrelated people are suddenly coming together everywhere, forming groups that are becoming bigger by the day. They feel a deep and inexplicable sense of connection to one another.


Shot in London with a cast of twelve main actors, the film is inspired by the current state of politics, technology as well as public debates about privacy, capitalism and societal organization. Popular Unrest owes also a lot to David Cronenberg’s ‘body horror’ and American television dramas CSI, Dexter and Bones, where reality is perceived through a pornographic forensics of empirical and visceral phenomena.

Popular Unrest is on view at the Galleria Franco Soffiantino in Turin until July 16, 2011 and on your computer screen.