We is a two-part installation: a neon work and messaging machine commissioned by the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge.
The work was developed following a one year collaboration with local residents across Cambridge, including visitors to Arbury Carnival and the Big Weekend, Chesterton Community College, North Cambridge Academy and the Asian Women’s Network.
A year long programme of activities invited people to reflect on what being a ‘we’ means to them. All contributions collected were combined and sequenced to create an epic text work presented on a messaging machine. Read together the reflections offer a rich and nuanced poem on who we are.
Following this process a stand alone statement was also created as a large scale neon work reading: WE ARE ALL ONE. This work reflects the precious nature of relationship and the precariousness of what holds it. That we are all one was a proposal made by a number of contributors to the project who also spoke of a fear of being alone. The first L in the word ALL is set to flicker, as if faulty, allowing the work to shift between ‘WE ARE ALL ONE’ and ‘WE ARE ALONE’ – highlighting the fine line separating these two positions. While creating an immediate contrast between these two statements, the work also offers the paradox that if we are all ‘one’ are we not in fact a ‘we’, and that if ‘we’ are alone we are not alone in being alone.
The title of the work takes its inspiration from the proposal by philosopher Jean-Luc Nancy that ‘we are’ – that we come into being through relationships – coupled with a symbolic play on the letters used to denote electricity from which this work is made.