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Popular Unrest, is a multi-episode drama set in a future much like the present. Here, however, all exchange transactions and social interactions are overseen by a system called ‘the Spirit’. A rash of unexplained killings have broken out across the globe. They often take place in public but witnesses never see an assailant. Just as mysteriously, groups of unrelated people are suddenly coming together everywhere, amassing new members rapidly. Unaccountably, they feel a deep and persistent sense of connection to one another.

The film explores a world in which the self is reduced to physical biology, directly subject to the needs of capital. 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. If on the one hand this suggests the complete domination of life by exchange value do the groupings offer a way out?

Shot in London with a cast of twelve main actors, the film’s form is partly inspired by 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. As with Gilligan’s recent video works, the film’s episodic structure takes its cue from television and the medium’s ability to dispense its storyline in stages.

Melanie Gilligan was born in Toronto in 1979. She currently lives in London and New York and works in a variety of media including video, performance, text, installation and music. Gilligan completed a BA (Hons) Fine Art at Central Saint Martins in 2002 and was a Fellow with the Whitney Museum of American Art’s Independent Study Programme in 2004-5. Recent exhibitions include: Transmission Gallery Glasgow (2008) as part of the Glasgow International Festival and Franco Soffiantino Gallery, Turin (2009). In 2008 Gilligan released Crisis in the Credit System, a four-part fictional mini drama about the recent financial crisis, made specifically for internet viewing and distribution, commissioned and produced by Artangel Interaction. She has recently completed a single screen film Self-capital (2009), commissioned by the Institute of Contemporary Arts London as part of the group exhibition ‘Talk Show’. In October 2009 Gilligan was the recipient of a Paul Hamlyn Award for Artists.

Popular Unrest is co-commissioned by Chisenhale Gallery, London; Kölnischer Kunstverein, Cologne; Walter Phillips Gallery, The Banff Centre; Presentation House Gallery, North Vancouver. Supported by Galleria Franco Soffiantino, Turin and Outset Contemporary Art Fund.

Gilligan has developed a site-specific installation for each exhibition, which will premier at Chisenhale Gallery in May 2010 and will be reconfigured for the subsequent venues. A series of talks and events will accompany each exhibition.

Chisenhale Gallery
7 May – 20 June 2010

Kölnischer Kunstverein, Cologne
26th June - 5th September

Walter Phillips Gallery, The Banff Centre
August 14 – October 24, 2010

Presentation House Gallery, North Vancouver
November 2010


Written and Directed by
Melanie Gilligan

Johanna Wartio

Executive Producer
Chisenhale Gallery / Polly Staple

JohnJohn-Christian Bateman
GuyGuy Henderson
MensahMensah Bediako
EmmaEmma Perry
PeterPeter Henderson
PadmaPadma Damodaran
StephanieStephanie Gunner
ChristyChristy Meyer
BenBen Murray-Watson
KatherineKatherine Peachey
RoryRory McCallum
Zhivila EntelechyZhivila Roche
Lab AssistantLaura Evelyn
Victim in officeSteven Ram
Office workerDaren-Luc Kelly
Victim on treadmill Alex Dower
Acquaintance in gymTom Murphy
Victim in the atriumMarina Vishmidt
Woman next to victim Lyndal Marwick
Victim in the tubeMatt Jamie
ServantErifili Missiou
Extras in the gymTom Ackers, Emily Norman, Jana Nemcovicova, Emily Ng
Extras in the tubeMelissa Castagnetto, Beatrice Dillon, Suni La, Ben Cooper
Extras in the atriumGregory Szabo, Maija Timonen, Steve Saxby, Hannah Raehse-Felstead
Main voice overEmily O'Connor, Tamsin Clarke, Simon J. Grant, Rachel Dobell, Francis Adams, Ellen Verenieks, Abigail Longstaffe
International news readersKarin Schneider, Demetra Kotouza, Ilze Black, Maija Timonen, Hicham Ayouch, Hua Zhang, Mattin, Sayako Sugawara

Director of Photography
Matthew Noel-Tod

Melanie Gilligan

Original Music
Ben Seymour

Assistant Director
David Panos

Sound Recordist
Tom Sedgwick

Sound Editor and Re-recording Mixer
Christopher Wilson

1st Assistant Camera
André Döbert

2nd Assistant Camera
Jackson Holmes

Associate Producer
Andrew Bonacina

Production Assistant
Katherine O’Shea

Benjamin Cooper

Ben-James Mealing

Cindy Haberstich

Art Director
Erifili Missiou

Prosthetic Effects Designer
Paul Hyett

Prosthetics Supervisor
Robbie Drake

Make-up Artist
Boglarka Gulacsi

After Effects
Dominik Binegger

Additional Graphics and After Effects
Tom Ackers

Logo Design and Graphics
Tim Booth

Posters in opening scene designed by Dan Mitchell

Spirit commercial filmed in Second Life by Metaverse TV

John Holloway
Portobello Post Ltd.

Title Design
Tom Ackers

Special thanks for script and edit support

Tom Ackers, Anna Dick, Anja Kirschner, Matthew Noel-Tod, David Panos, Ben Seymour

Special thanks

Isabelle Hancock and all at Chisenhale Gallery, Kathrin Jentjens & Anja Nathan-Dorn, Kitty Scott & Naomi Potter, Reid Shier, Franco Soffiantino, Michael Gilligan, Andrew Haigh, Alastair Cookson, Joshua Peck, Transport for London, Tower Hamlets Film Office, York Hall, Only Connect, Panalux, New Day Pictures, Richmond Film Services


Jean Waterson, Mark Dell, Michelle Myrie, Kate Reston, Tamsin Dillon, Karen Stevenson, Kirsty McIntyre, Michael Januska, Ole Mienert, Allan Murray, Paul J Cook, Angelina Baker-Smith, Becky Hogge, James Sweetbaum, Susannah Routledge, Kat Hawker, Alex Kitnick, Tim Savage, Iain Boal, Gillian Boal

Supported by

Galleria Franco Soffiantino, Turin
Outset Contemporary Art Fund
Arts Council England

Supported by logos

Co-commissioned by

Chisenhale Gallery, London
Kölnischer Kunstverein, Cologne
Walter Phillips Gallery, The Banff Centre and
Presentation House Gallery, North Vancouver

Co-commissioned by logos

All names, characters and incidents portrayed in this production are fictitious. No identification with actual persons either living or dead is intended or should be inferred.

© 2010 Popular Unrest by Melanie Gilligan, all rights reserved.

For press and information on exhibitions

Chisenhale Gallery

Kölnischer Kunstverein

Walter Phillips Gallery, The Banff Centre
Naomi Potter,

Presentation House Gallery, North Vancouver
Diane Evans,

For festivals and film distribution

Linda Johanna Wartio,

Website by Wolfram Wiedner

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