Exercises for Sabotage: A Dinner for the (Dis)affected

‘A Dinner for the (Dis)affected’ grew from an interest in working-class voices and poetry shared and discussed with poet Will Harris during my residency at Van Gogh House London.

Dishes were inspired by a passage in Charlotte Bronte’s Shirley, a novel set during the Luddite protests, and Hannah Fox Parker’s recipe book Cooking in a Hosier Cottage, published by Nottingham’s Framework Knitters’ Museum.

Guests were encouraged to bring a poem or other piece of writing to recite, and additional texts by the Luddites were distributed with each plate.

Hannah Fox Parker’s recipe book Cooking in a Hosier Cottage
Charlotte Bronte’s Shirley
Will Harris reciting from The Poorhouse Fugitives

‘A Dinner for the (Dis)affected’ was part of the more extensive research project ‘Exercises for Sabotage’.

The term “sabotage” is derived from the French word for “clog”: sabot.
The connection between the wooden shoe and deliberate acts of disruption stems from a form of sabotage used by French workers in the past: throwing a clog into a machine to halt production.

With Exercises for Sabotage, we aimed to imagine ways to disrupt current neoliberal dynamics of hyper-productivity, precarity, and individualism, which force current generations, our peers, into premature burnouts and create alienating work and social relations.
Taking inspiration from early industrial activist figures and groups such as The Luddites – an anonymous group of textile workers who smashed early industrial tools to protect their livelihoods and prevent their own redundancy – we want to learn to throw our clog back into the machine and create a technology that de-alienates us from labor and each other.