We need we

2016, graduation project

“This is us and that is them. And they are different.”

But is that true? Is that, what we think is different, really different? And is that, what we think is similar, actually similar? What do we think? Who are we? Can we ever be one we?

We need we researches global identification. In a lot of places, people live in a small and bordered world of ‘we’ and do not feel connected with others, particularly people who live elsewhere on our world. This ‘us/them-mentality’ exists because we identify based on superficial aspects, as ethnicity, nationality, age and gender, instead of profound aspects as characteristics, visions and ideals.

We need we aspires to part this ‘us/them-mentality’ and stimulate identification by showing that there are more similarities than initially thought.
What happens when somebody says something that you can not relate to at all, turns out to be somebody with whom you would have completely identified initially? And even more important; what happens when somebody says something that you can completely relate to, turns out to be somebody with whom you would absolutely have not identified? Can showing this unexpected similarity cause identification?

We need we communicates using personal stories, in both text and imagery, from people from the Netherlands and KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa; the place where the average Dutch inhabitant considers the differences between himself and the local inhabitant the biggest.
A month-long travel to Mseleni, KwaZulu-Natal enabled meeting people, joining them in their lives, collecting their personal stories, photographing them and researching identification through conversations and asking questions; ‘Why are we the same?’, ‘Why are you different?’ and ‘Are we more alike or more different?’. The same thing was done in the Netherlands.

We need we resulted in a visual essay that has the ability to create an experience and allows space for the reader’s personal interpretation. The book is fragmented and exists, next to personal stories, out of additional images, quotes and answers to the question ‘Can we be one we?’.
The book allows the reader to either identify or not identify with somebody – based on profound aspects on which can be identified – to later discover with whom – based on superficial aspects on which can be identified –. This way we need we plays with the reader’s expectations and creates realisation and awareness.

We need we was exhibited during:

Ready, set, go! graduation exhibition
AKV | St. Joost, Breda, July 4th until 8th 2015
Accreditatie Duurzaamheid expositie
AKV | St. Joost, Breda, December 17th 2015

and was published in:

VersPers, July 8th 2015
HP/De Tijd, June 26th 2015