A Long Table on Performance and Human Rights

The Long Table is an experimental public forum inspired by Marleen Gorris's film Antonia's Line. In this film a woman returns to the Dutch countryside to raise her young daughter and founds a communal house wherein the residents defy convention and live life as they please. The central image of the film is a dinner table that grows longer as the commune accepts more outsiders and accommodates more eccentricity. The table becomes so long it has to be brought outside.

The Long Table is a private party in public; an interactive dining room for informal conversations on serious topics with space for standing and listening or sitting and talking. It is literally a long table equipped with microphones, where participants take it in turns to come to the table to make statements or responses on issues of performance, activism and human rights.

The first Long Table was a discussion between prisoners, artists and activists held in June 2003 at the Casa da Lapa Rio de Janeiro as part of People's Palace Project 'Staging Human Rights'.

A Long Table on Performance and Human Rights
27 April 2005

A Long Table on Performance and Human Rights was held on 27 April 2005 at Queen Mary, University of London in order to help inform the agendas of Performance Studies International #12: Performing Rights and to consider issues of performance and human rights that may be addressed through other strategies over several years.


  • Conceived and installed by Lois Weaver
  • Produced by Rose Sharp
  • Technical Manager: Tracey Hammill
  • Administration Assistant: Sarah Hussain
  • Video and Stills Photography: Lisa Gornick
  • Stills Photography: Inge Blackman

The Long Table on Performance and Human Rights is part of East End Collaborations 2005 and is financially assisted by Arts Council England.

With thanks to the School of English and Drama, Queen Mary, University of London.


'You Are Here ... But Where Am I?'
by Stacy Makishi

Performed by Juan Chin, Song Chang and Stacy Makishi

A component of a larger piece, ' You Are Here ... But Where Am I?' was originally commissioned by the Liverpool Biennial in 2002. The work is an exploration of one the most dangerous territories, immigration's borders. The border establishes the limit between self and other, answering the question: what is inside and what is outside of my domain? This piece was inspired by a series of events, which occurred while I was detained by various immigration officials. While detained in Canada, US Immigration continued to ask me if I understood English. While leaving the US, an immigration official detained me before I boarded the plane. She stopped me for no reason, and when I protested, she told me that she was above my questions and above the law. During my detainment at Heathrow, an immigration officer named Seamus, (pronounced Shame-us), felt compelled to interrogate my sexuality, religion and culture. I told him that I had fallen in love with a woman from Nuneaton. I don't know if the crime was that she was a woman or that she was from Nuneaton, but he put me into a jail cell. I remembered how I was made to feel dangerous. A bomb in a suitcase. A biological weapon. I felt like a chemical leak, an incontinent, not of the continent, an islander surrounded in fluid.

in·con·ti·nent (n-knt-nnt) adj.
  • Lacking normal voluntary control of excretory functions
  • Lacking sexual restraint; unchaste


The Long Table Discussion
The Long Table is an experimental public forum that is a hybrid performance-installation-roundtable-discussion-dinner party designed to facilitate dialogue between artists, academics, activists and advocates who are interested in the areas of performance, cultural activism and Human Rights. It is a private party held in public, an interactive dining room for informal conversations on serious topics. Please feel free to stand and listen or take a seat at the table and share your ideas.

In the House (Video)
In the House is the culmination of work created with female prisoners in the UK and Brazil as part of the People's Palace Projects, Staging Human Rights. The four video presentations include:

  • Sounds
    Created by the women of Brazilian and UK prisons that incorporates fantasy personae and written text.  
  • My Heart Is Not Made Of Paper
    A performed presentation of their painted dirty laundry.
  • Letters
    Letters written from a prison self to a fantasy self that includes a secret or a message.
  • Do Something
    A composite portrait of the women and their work edited to the Macy Gray track, Do Something.

Adrien Sina (Video)
Adrien Sina has created a video artwork especially for The Long Table featuring video excerpts and images of artistic practices concerned with issues of Performance, Politics, Ethics and Human Rights within historical contexts. In 2003, Adrien Sina was advisor to Tate Liverpool for Art, Lies and Videotape: Exposing Performance. Adrien is currently working with the Live Art Development Agency as a Thinker In Residence considering issues of Performance, Politics, Ethics and Human Rights, in relation to historical and contemporary practices and ideas of representation, documentation and archiving. As part of his residency he has developed a website which provides an historical overview of the development of the question of Human Rights and illustrates the historical and contemporary strategies undertaken by artists. Visit: www.adrien-sina.net/ethics/ [new window].

13 Experiments in Hope
(DVD from The Laboratory of Insurrectionary Imagination)
The Laboratory of Insurrectionary Imagination (lab of ii) have created a new DVD bringing together creative actions, interventions, tactical media, pranks and other activities that fall outside of and in between the spaces of culture and politics, resistance and creativity. The DVD features works that attempts to shatter illusions and inspire grassroots cultural and political change and formed part of a tool box that the lab of ii used in their recent tour of the UK leading up to the G8 Summit in Scotland. The Laboratory of Insurrectionary Imagination (lab of ii) is a new network of socially engaged artists and activists whose work falls in between resistance and creativity, culture and politics, art and life. Visit: www.labofii.net [new window].

The Laundry Project
One woman's guerrilla action encouraging people to commit acts of domestic terrorism by hanging laundry in public.


The hope that these conversations will continue and multiply.

The Long Table © June 2005


Disclaimer © Queen Mary, University of London 2005