When you walk in the room you see this very expansive tableau of women sitting around yellow cloth covered tables. The audience is then drawn into the sphere of the visual; they are also part of the performance.
Genetics, illness, children, finances.
Each projection has in front of it a person sitting at a computer.
We spent some time in South Africa in the early 70s.
That person is transcribing their personal narrative as they write themselves into history.
And it was a million word corporates, and half of that was spoken English.
I should say very clearly this is actually not a project about aging and not a sentimental project about older women and isn’t that nice, we should take care of them. This is a project about discrimination and inequality. So they understood that in Tate Learning, they created a series of workshops. They brought 250 women each of whom participated in helping us frame the discourse that would take place during the piece. Women inserted their histories on a timeline on the wall, their first moment of revelation, something that prompted them to activism, something they noticed early on.
We were told at school we had to wear suspender belts and stockings instead of socks, it was just the school rules. And I thought I’m not doing this. I
I rung up my mum and said oh, I’ve been to Greenham today, and she said oh, did you see the picture of you that I pinned on the fence?
Because I’ve become aware of what a mess we’re leaving this world in, and I feel responsible.
The last element of the project was the kitchen table. They were actually videotaping a series of four conversations.
Because you start off questioning, don’t you, why are things like this.
Because the first thing many people in the media will want to do is say that feminists have sold out.
What do you decide? Am I going to have food on the table, because it’s still near enough the same but in different ways, or am I going to go to that meeting?
Those women participated in a very intense and directed conversation about the various forms of activism and their histories and what they thought was needed going forward.
We’re here because other people campaigned for equal rights for women to be educated. Even if we felt we had resolved it in some way for ourselves, it’s still being struggled over now.
The image evolved over six months of people talking, so it’s a truly participatory work and my role as an artist is to help facilitate the process.