Atlantic Billboard

Launched in April 2021, 81 Acts of Exuberant Defiance, Atlantic Billboard was a community-initiated cultural programme to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Brixton ’81 Uprisings. Atlantic Billboard, part of the 81 Acts theme ‘Insight/Incite’, marked the epicentre of the protests with a space to screen project content inspired by the lived experiences of the 81 community. The location, at the crossroads of Atlantic, Railton and Coldharbour Roads, delivered the wider social, historical context of ’81 (Insight) and catalysed calls to action – what has changed since ’81? And where do we go next (Incite)?

The project featured two strands: Working with local young people, Mesmer developed content (short films/animations) based on the significance of the Atlantic. Secondly, films based around the 81 Humanifesto, created by the young people of We Rise. This content was projected onto a screen installed on the ‘Frontline’ of Atlantic Road.

The Atlantic Ocean was central to the slave trade and also the later passage from the Caribbean to England – for many people the journey began with the Atlantic Ocean and ended on Atlantic Road. The Atlantic pub was often targeted by the Metropolitan Police, catalysing its occupation in ‘81 as the Frontline. The project activated Brixton’s Frontline, immortalised in popular memory, by a new generation.

The project partially came about from dialogue that recognised the lack of representation in the profession of video designers and technicians. The professional network is often a self-perpetuating closed environment and the project employed and introduced new young people to the sector. The engagement with contributors from under-represented groups provided both networking and future mentoring opportunities as well as an immediate experience of valuing and creating their culture and its public representation.

The involvement of young people was essential to the knowledge transference of 81 and also gave them direct technical and creative experience. Representation and re-presentation are important elements in how Brixton’s community is perceived, and by using new methods of digital production and an engaging outdoor intervention, the project was able to continue to develop the visual representation of the neighbourhood. 

Participants interacted with the work and the wider 81 Acts programming through the ‘insight’ it shared and ‘incite’ thoughts and action to re-imagine an equitable structure for community.. 

Atlantic Billboard provided a space to educate and reinforce the importance of the 81 Uprisings as part of Brixtons shared history, yielding spontaneous messaging, food for thought, provocations and enabling knowledge transference. Members of the BPOC community saw issues surrounding the ongoing fight for racial equality and justice addressed and conversations enabled at the heart of where they live and work. The piece informed locals that there is activity commemorating, celebrating and continuing the conversation of ’81 and provided a sense of community connection and dialogue across this diverse community.

Partners & Collaborators

81 Acts of Exuberant Defiance

To mark the 40th anniversary of the 1981 Brixton Uprising, individuals, community groups and organisations came together to create 81 Acts of Exuberant Defiance. In 1981, Black communities in Brixton first rose up in a bloody confrontation with the Metropolitan Police against a backdrop of racism, severe economic recession and high unemployment. For the first time since the uprisings in 1981, 81 Acts will tell the unheard stories of this exuberantly defiant act of rebellion that fundamentally changed Britain.

We Rise

We Rise is an award winning Brixton based community business with a mission to empower young people to create successful futures.

Mesmer

MESMER are a creative studio and technical consultancy working with video, projection and digital integration for live events.