The writers in Prison and human rights committee of the Japan P.E.N. Club
Freedom of expression has been a linchpin of International PEN since its formation in 1921. Concerns for colleagues imprisoned, executed, tortured through times of war, peace, revolution, and détente took the form of speeches at congresses, resolutions, letters of support, telegrams to offending governments and an embrace of exiled writers.
The Writers in Prison and Human Rights Committee of the Japan P.E.N. Club dispatches fact-finding missions to investigate the repression of writers and the current status of journalists and other writers in prison, focusing primarily on Asia. It also holds "Writers in Prison Day" activities once a year.
There is a chair with no one sitting in it, placed in the room at the International PEN congresses and at PEN events held worldwide. The people who should be sitting in this chair are the writers in prison and other writers who are prevented from acting freely and cannot participate in the activities of PEN. We place the empty chair in the room as a silent protest expressing the importance of freedom of expression, while looking for the day when the people who should be sitting in the chair can sit in it.
On the occasion of the holding of the International PEN Congress in Tokyo, the Japan P.E.N. Club has produced an Empty Chair with help from the students at Tokyo Polytechnic University under the supervision of designer Yukiko Kure (a part-time instructor at the university).
Title is " Missing Words"
The back of the chair is covered by the books printed and the seat is coated like the mirror. From the different standing points of view, it reflects the banned words in the silence.
(Installed in the conference room of the W.i.P.C in the International PEN Congress Tokyo 2010)