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The Right to Flight

Date uploaded: June 9, 2014

For the first ever solo art commission for the Bold Tendencies Summer Programme in the disused multi-storey car park in Peckham, artist and writer James Bridle will present 'The Right to Flight' launching a giant military balloon from the roof of the car park. Attached to the balloon will be a variety of payloads, from darknet routers to aerial cameras, with the results of its experiments shared publicly and online. The project will run from the 19th of June to the 21st of September 2014.

The balloon, a large, military-grade helikite, ascends from a newly commissioned structure designed by London based architecture and design studio TDO, consisting of a rooftop hangar, workshop and exhibition space, where the project will be documented from June until September.

'The Right to Flight' takes its name from a treatise written by the Parisian photographer and balloonist Nadar in 1866. He proclaimed that mankind had a right, even a duty, to ascend to the heavens. His friend the novelist Victor Hugo urged him to "deliver mankind from the ancient, universal tyranny of gravity!" Nadar was the first person to take aerial photographs, and led the daring effort to break the Siege of Paris in 1870. But ballooning has also taken a darker turn: from the Zeppelin raids of the First World War, to the use of surveillance balloons in Iraq and Afghanistan, and along the US/Mexico border.

Using an aerostat designed for just that purpose, The Right to Flight will investigate ways to return the powers of surveillance and omniscience to the surveilled, and attempt to rediscover Nadar's utopias in the possibilities of contemporary technologies, while making its own claim on London's increasingly crowded skyline.
Letters from the Balloon

James will be writing a series of letters from the balloon over the course of the summer, telling its stories and exploring its findings. To sign up to receive these or for more information about the project click here.

The Right to Flight is at Bold Tendencies, Levels 7-10, Multi Storey Car Park, 95a Rye Lane, Peckham, SE15 9ST

It is open Wednesday to Sunday, from 11am to 11pm, from June 19th to the 21st of September.

The nearest station is Peckham Rye (London Overground and National Rail from London Bridge and London Victoria).