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99% Invisible: The Invisible Monument to Free Speech

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On this week's episode of 99% Invisible . . .

In 1989, a group called the Berkeley Art Project decided to hold a national public art competition to create a monument that would commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Free Speech Movement.  The winning design, created by Mark Brest van Kempen (who was then a graduate student at the San Francisco Art Institute), is an invisible sculpture that creates a small space completely free from laws or jurisdiction.  The six inch circle of soil, and the “free” column of airspace above it, is framed by a six foot granite circle. The inscription on the granite reads, “This soil and the air space extending above it shall not be a part of any nation and shall not be subject to any entity’s jurisdiction.”   When you stand next to it today, 25 years after it was installed, you’d never suspect the contentious battle and the ironic compromise that finally led to its placement in Sproul Plaza.

Friday at 7:35am & 4:45pm and Saturday at 8:35am.

Matt Martin was KALW’s general manager from 2006 through 2018. Under his leadership, KALW grew into one of the most productive and innovative stations in public radio. Programs launched at KALW during Matt’s tenure as GM include the award-winning local newsmagazine Crosscurrents, the design podcast 99% Invisible, and the Spanish-language narrative journalism program Radio Ambulante. He helped create the station’s Audio Academy, a year-long program aimed at developing new talents in public radio, and led the first broad-based strategic planning process in the station’s history.