Collaboration with Abbas Zahedi
A Seat at the Table was an interactive installation that attempted to strip down socioeconomic barriers between long-term residents of the Church Hill Garden Housing Estate and the River Walk Apartments, newly built residences in Pimlico, London. An equal number of invitations were sent out randomly to both residences requesting their participation in a group meal. To encourage non-hierarchical interactions, participating guests were situated at tables next to people from different backgrounds whom they had never met before, and urged to talk to one another.
Given a seat at the table, guests immersed themselves in a good meal and good company and, in this universal act of enjoyment, were led to acknowledge the many ways in which people are equal. At the same time, they were made aware of social discrepancies, which were clearly visible and keenly felt in new and unfamiliar interactions, and alluded to by a menu that expressed a multitude of sociocultural concerns.
All the ingredients for the food prepared were sourced from local shops and vegetables grown in the garden installation A Common Ground, as a gesture of support for local businesses, communities and practices that were embedded in Pimlico. Crucially, each dish told a story: some were of personal journeys through the service industry; others were of social struggles and experiences with migration; and all of them spoke of cultural heritage and familial ties.
Course 1: Black and Green Olives, Hummus, Tsisiki, Assorted Pickled Radishes and Chillies, Tortilla (Spanish Omelet), served with Flatbread with Za’atar.
Course 2: Beets with Feta and Fennel Frowns, Canned Fish Salad with Green Beefsteak Tomatoes Wild Fennel and Red Onion, Cauliflower Salad with Tahini Pine Nuts and Red Currants.
Course 3: Okra stewed with Harissa and Roasted Peppers, Ful(Fava) Beans with Yogurt and Fresh Jalapeños, Iranian Crispy Saffron Rice with Potatoes, Eggplant with Roasted Tomatoes and Cumin Minced Beef with Herbs and Pine Nuts.