UEL academic breathes life into Olympic borough with thought-provoking film

University of East London senior lecturer Faisal Adbu’Allah brought crowds to the Olympic Park this month with a thought-provoking open-air screening of his new film Double Pendulum. The film was screened for two and a half weeks from 30 June to 17 July as a large-scale outdoor projection with the Olympic stadium as the backdrop; with more than 500 people attending the premiere.

The screening of 'Double Pendulum' at the Olympic Park
The screening of 'Double Pendulum' at the Olympic Park

A study in breathing and movement, the film uses three sports professionals to illustrate the journey that air takes through the human body, accompanied by a narrative from world-leading scientists. The film also runs for exactly nine minutes and 58 seconds, a reference to the current 100 metre world record of 9.58 seconds, set by Usain Bolt in 2009.

The athletes: Jeanette Kwakye, 2007 British Champion 100 and 200 metres; footballer Anthony Grant of Southend United and martial arts 2008 British Gold medallist and European Silver medallist, Ammar Duffus, demonstrate how size, identity, gender, class and geography affect the way we breathe and move.

The film also takes a critical look at London’s air quality and comes at a time when the country risks a fine from the International Olympic Committee if it continues to break air pollution laws by the time the 2012 Games begin. With a high prevalence of asthma in elite athletes, aggravated by poor air quality and official readings showing a high air pollution index at the Beijing Olympics, it is seen very much as a hot topic in the sporting world.

Faisal Adbu’Allah, who has been artist in residence at the Serpentine Galley, Tate Modern and the National Portrait Gallery and whose recent exhibitions include a major solo show at Stamford University in the United States, is regarded as one of the most politically significant British artists of the last ten years.

The screening took place as part of the CREATE 11 festival: an annual summer festival that celebrates Europe’s largest cultural quarter: the Olympic Host Boroughs, where over 12,000 artists live and work.

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