A Seat at the Table is an audio work produced through social practice, with female-identifying anti-war activists from across the globe. The title of the work refers to the trope that positions nuclear weapons as necessary to secure membership of a global decision-making group. The work was devised collaboratively, and through this process looks at the conditions of participatory practice, as based in feminist values of equality rather than material exchange.
The work is composed from recordings made in the UK and in Japan during the summer of 2019. Sounds include the voices of Japanese Hibakusha (survivors of nuclear bombs), who share their stories in order to campaign for the total elimination of nuclear weapons. Many women Hibakusha suffered devastating stigma due to misinformation about radiation sickness being hereditary or contagious, affecting their prospects for employment and marriage. We also hear from past residents of Greenham Common Women’s Peace Camp on how gender-based stereotyping has been used to undermine activist efforts. Music and speeches were recorded at significant events such as the World Conference Against A & H Bombs and the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Ceremony, and field recordings were collected at locations such as the A-bomb dome and hospitals caring for first generation Hibakusha.
Whilst these recordings were made, the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) was terminated, following US and subsequently Russian withdrawal, increasing the prospects of a new nuclear arms race centred on Europe. Contributors from across the globe share views on the intersection of peace and equality campaigning, and the work that needs to be done in local as well as global contexts.
The work premiered at Chinretsukan Gallery, Tokyo University of the Arts as part of SOUND::GENDER::FEMINISM::ACTIVISM Tokyo - a conference organised by CRiSAP, University of the Arts London and the Graduate School of Global Arts (GA), Tokyo University of the Arts.