frenulum | 4m, video, 2020

frenulum follows eight children as they perform imaginary tongue surgery on a member of their group, supposedly to help them speak phonetic sounds from the English language better. 

The film uses theatre and song to highlight the continuing violent links between English phonetics and global Capitalism, bringing it into discussion with the politics of children’s games, ritual, and group dynamics.

A lingual frenectomy is a common operation across the globe for ‘tongue-tie’. However, in certain countries such as South Korea, where demand for English is extremely strong, it is also used for the distinctive reason of helping children reach specific English sounds better. Widely disputed by health professionals and local authorities as a suitable procedure for such a goal, it is representative of the physical manifestation of the continuing colonial socio-economic-cultural pressures to perfect the English language for future career and life opportunities. It also signifies a developing phenomenon at play of disregarding medical advice in favour of socio-political views, pressures, and narratives.

Director: henry bradley

Cinematography: Marlon Rouse Tavares and Rosie Taylor
Sound Recordist and Design: Oriol Campi
Costume Design: Immanuela Stawski
Music Composition: Benjamin Bradley, henry bradley
Clapper Loader: Immanuela Stawski
Vocal Coach Consultants: Claire Goodall, Kate Montague
Creative Producer: Phillip Warnell
Producer: Nikta Mohammadi
BBC Commissioning Exec: Stephen James-Yeoman
Performers: Alicia Bramwell, Noel Evans, Verity Drew Firth, Dulcie McEvoy Gould, Roman Jameel, Zac Pile, Konstanza Firth-Radford, Anika Selvarajah

Special Thanks: Tim Copeck and the Kingston University AV rental department, Elaine Eaglestone at Casting Kids Kate, Kate Montague

Install shots: Transmissions, ICA, London, 2020


Supported by: New Creatives Scheme; BBC, UK; ICA, London, UK; Kingston University, London, UK