‘The Table’ is a prototype, modular dining table, that was developed in collaboration with carpenter Haroon Ishaq and architect Jon Orlek, in July 2019. It has been built and designed to enable a different version to be made each time a new set of people gather and assemble it.
The desire to build a table came from our interest in informal infrastructures and the abundant history of womxn, activists, collectivities and groups sharing informal knowledge and plotting around the kitchen table.
It draws functional cues from Sara Ahmed’s Queer Phenomenology: apposing the idea of the eurocentric-male philosopher’s table as the site for knowledge production, disconnected from the everyday and unaware of the invisible labour which supports it. This table attempts to occupy a queered, shifting and collective perspective:
with many parts facing many ways and crucially requires many people to construct it from the bottom up
It makes visible the labour of assembly/disassembly and its shape is informed by the many perspectives of those present. We are interested in what this act allows, invites or asks us to reflect on more widely and what ways this object could be used to discuss solidarities across places/practices in the UK.
Produced whilst artists in residence in Beeston throughout the summer of 2019 the images drawn on the table’s surface show observations and reflections of both top down and bottom up viewpoints or depictions of the area. From the ketchup pot found on the front door step on our first day to the census, shared toys left in the street to wikipedia data, and various neighbourhood plans and consultations. The table
weaves together the partial perspectives of both artist and ‘master planner’
It set the scene for 3 dinners we hosted in the basement kitchen at Artist House 45. Each night a range of folk came together to build and eat at the table, with a mixture of those local to Beeston and others from further afield with shared interests around social politics. Guests brought a range of experiences from different backgrounds and practices: organising, activism, art and academic work.
Each night they were joined by an invited speaker: Marsha Bradfield was invited to speak about the Artist Placement Group and Incidental Unit, Andrea Francke on infrastructure as art practice and their work on evaluation with Gasworks, and Sonia Boyce introduced her ongoing mural commision with 3 different neighbourhoods in London. Conversations flowed around the way places change, how and why people do things for their community or where they live, who the ‘players’ are and what makes us feel welcome and at home, or not in a globalised world.
Sounds of Garnet Terrace: a playlist Shazam’d from number 45 and our movements in Beeston (available on Spotify here).
With thanks to Huddersfield University, the Arts Council England, Leeds Inspired and East Street Arts.