Working across film, sound and performance, Mikhail Karikis’ project adopts the children’s science fiction novel ‘The Iron Woman’ (1993) by the British writer and poet Ted Hughes as an ecofeminist parable of the power of sound to effect physical and socio-political transformation. In this story, a female superhero gifts children with a mysterious power – a noise. Transmitted by touch, this noise resonates with the collective howl of creatures affected by the pollution of the planet. As the children take matters into their own hands, they infiltrate factories and ‘infect’ adults with their demand for immediate action.
Karikis engaged with a group of 7-year-olds from a London Primary School throughout their academic year. Through workshops, experimental pedagogical methods, reading, debating and play, they created a film together which reflects on the environmental themes of the book and imagines the enigmatic noise that assists the protagonists in their protest. Improvising with their voices, on musical instruments and toys, the children conduct cymatic experiments whereby a noise or vocal utterance takes on unique visual forms resembling ever-changing landscapes – the results echo the power of communal noise-making to mobilise change through sound.
In the central video of Karikis’ project, the children gather to debate and they discover a shared sense of justice and responsibility towards the environment, and the urgent need for solidarity with all creatures. The video concludes with the children’s transformation into playful yet monstrous masked agitators confronting the viewer.
While being uncertain about our ecological future, Karikis’ “No Ordinary Protest” uncovers children’s political voice and activist imagination, where communal listening and noise-making become tools that can ‘move mountains’ and transform our world.
Aamilah Khalid, Amirah Razaque, Ayaan Ahmed, Ayman Shah, Eshan Hoque, Fahim Hossain, Hamza Al-Mamnoon, Iqra Ali, Iqra Uddin, Isa Alom, Ismail Tapader, Khoyrul Haque, Labeebah Hussain , Maleik Bodur, Maryam Khanom, Mus’ab Hossain, Mutas Hassan, Nafez Al-Bari, Nali Aram, Nasheed Ahmed, Radhiya Choudhury, Rafi Hyder, Rayan Ahmed, Rayan Hacini, Saima Yasmin, Sania Shah, Shihabur Rahman, Tahmeed Hassan, Tahseen Rahman, Tamim Ali, Tania Ali, Yaseen Hussain, Zaynab Jaman.
Creative Arts Lead, Mayflower Primary School: Benjamin Jones
Co-Producers: Laura Shacham, Polly Wright, FVU
Director of Photography: Jamie Quantrill
Sound Recordist: Adam Laschinger
Production Assistants: Charles J. Goodall, Hoagy Hickson
Mask Consultant: Charles J. Goodall
Grading: Storm HD
Ben Jones and the children at Mayflower Primary School, Sofia Victorino, Mercedes Vicente and Helen Davison of Whitechapel Gallery, Steven Bode and the Film and Video Umbrella team, Elinor Morgan at Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art, Rob Crosse, Charlie Goodall, Uriel Orlow, Cameraworks, Panalux, Roundtable Post Production
Commissioned by Film and Video Umbrella, Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art, and Whitechapel Gallery.
Supported by Arts Council England.