Non-violent Kitchen Table
On the 27th of May, 2023, I facilitated the "Non-Violent Kitchen Table" as a space for dialogue among individuals living in Belfast in the Catalyst Arts Gallery. Through this site specific project, I had an opportunity to engage in performative research with a group of people coming from different conflict-affected backgrounds. The conversations with attendances centered around our experiences of living in a post-conflict situation, where either side lives together in the same society. We discussed how it feels to have escaped conflict and arrive here, and explored how to engage in difficult conversations with friends or family members who hold deeply opposing convictions. The participants were given the simple task of shaping clay. The clay pieces did not necessarily have to represent any meaning, but rather gave a natural and intimate feeling of kitchen-table activity, while at the same time allowing participants to give shape to their thoughts and feelings through their hands.
My motivation comes from my personal experience, as in post-soviet countries the kitchen table was often a hub for heavy political debates between opposing sides of the same conflict. In Russia, people hold vastly different political views which often leads to the division of friendships and families. At some point, some people choose simply to avoid discussing politics in order to maintain cohesion, as if silence is what keeps them together. Therefore, I intended to create a kitchen table where different conflicts can find mutually shared experiences.
Performance duration: 5 hours
Locations: Catalyst Arts Gallery, Beyond Skin Studios
Big thanks to
iMAE (ArtEZ University of the Arts), Catalyst Arts Gallery, Beyond Skin, Thomas Wells, John Reardon, Stefanie Hatzis, Ayham Ali, Sharron Currie
and all the participants:
Sergey (Russia), Duncan (Northern Ireland), Toby ( UK), Paula (Argentina), Ayham (Palestine-Syria), Paul (South Korea/USA), Katya (Russia), Ashleigh (N. Ireland), Joanne (Ireland)