2016 - Serving With Love




Installation/Performance: Cathode Ray Tube TV's, Turkish Tea Set, Turkish Tea. Chernobyl: Impact and Beyond Exhibition, Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art, Chicago, IL.




Serving With Love

Tea is consumed in very large quantities in Turkey, and is often central to social interactions. During social gatherings it is common to be served tea grown in Turkey's eastern Black Sea coast. When the radioactive particles from Chernobyl arrived in the region, they literally rained on the tea crop that was about to be harvested, contaminating it. After the rain the contaminated tea was harvested, and sent to the market for human consumption. In the late spring/early summer of 1986, when the media started mentioning that the tea might have been contaminated, there was palpable panic among the Turkish public.

In order to calm the public, the Turkish government at the time put the Minister of Industry and Trade, Cahit Aral, on television, and had him drink tea from the same contaminated batch as a way to prove that the tea was safe for human consumption. In his banter with the media at the time, Mr. Aral, went as far as to say that the television sets people were watching were emanating more radiation than the tea could ever contain. For the following years the Turkish government continued to deny that the tea was unsafe for human consumption, while secretly burning large quantities of the contaminated batch, re-releasing the radioactive particles into the atmosphere.