Sophie Hope in Conversation

In this session Hope introduces the research group to her work on the 1984 dinners, a series of meals hosted by the artist in London, Melbourne, Johannesburg and Singapore with artists participants who were politically active in the year 1984. Recordings from the meals were gathered together into an online archive with material edited down and organized under topics of conversation. The session opens, like the dinners themselves, with a meal while Hope plays a twenty minute audio extract in which different extracts from each of the dinners are spliced together to produce a virtual conversation between the different voices and geographies. Following the discussion Hope explains the process of choreographing the dinners through a menu of questions and light facilitation to keep conversations on track. On the menu the last question asks participants to think of parallels between then and now to ignite the conversation before it closes, ripping it away from the nostalgia track. Hope also discusses her preference for the organically structured, convivial space of the dinner as opposed to more formal interview situations and the self funded nature of the project. In organizing the meals she reveals that the mistranslations and the collective production of memory have become important areas for the research. 


Triggered by details about the conceptual roots of the project, the history of cultural policy in London in the 1980s, the discussion opens out to reflections by one participant who was active as a teacher in London at that time. From this specific point conversation moves from questions around research methodologies to broad discussions on how, in this moment, resistance might be possible. Participants note a kind of haunted quality to the recording, and Hope concedes that although the dinners aren’t about Orwell his work is a specter like presence. Finally, beyond resistance the discussion reflects a desire to imagine or experience alternatives. For Hope the dinners facilitate a kind of collective time travel, allowing people in the room to have a conversation about now and generating energy for activism. 

Audio Title: 
Sophie Hope in Conversation with the On the Edge research community: Hilal Bugali, Anne Douglas, Nicola Chambury, Nil Gulari, Fiona Hope, Mark Hope, Jon Price, Helen Smith
Audio Accession Number: 
AW. 004
Audio Speaker: 
Sophie Hope and Guests
Audio Annotation: 
A talk and research group discussion
Audio Location: 
Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen
Audio Date: 
Friday, May 8, 2015
Audio Duration: 
Audio Type: 
Private open research discussion
Audio Technical: 
First recorded section is difficult to hear in places, some sounds of eating, proceeding conversation is clear.
Audio Recording type: 
Zoom recording