We Are What We Are (Close and Remote, 2015) is a journey through five decades of working lives. Mixing first person narrative and archival images, ‘We Are What We Are’ tracks the impact of globalisation on the landscape and people of Barking and Dagenham. We Are What We Are is a video work (33 minutes) using split screen editing to create a piece that is architectural in style.
A 1965 Ford Cortina starts its engine on Thunderer Road. It’s indicator flashes as it drives through Barking and Dagenham’s industrial past. We encounter a series of stories as the landscape changes and the years roll by. Bobby Moore lifts the European Cup, women strike for equal pay, the Race Relations Act is legalised. Local and national events move across the screen as the Cortina journeys on. Major industries expand and collapse. The borough’s population declines as people move away to find work. Thatcher wins, Charles and Di get married and the Unions lose power. The journey switches to the no. 62 bus as it passes through the right to buy, a decline in social housing and the rise and fall of the BNP. New communities move into the borough. Daggers compete in the League Cup, UKIP wins a parliamentary seat and the first female bishop is ordained. The journey ends in 2015 at the newly regenerated Barking Creekside, a contrast to the industrialised riverside of the 1960’s and 70’s. Voices talk of the future. The Cortina drives along the A13 and out of the borough, past the wind turbines and towards 2065….
There is also a series of 2 minute single screen videos, like the one on the left, that detail the individual stories we encountered on our journey. These can be viewed at https://vimeo.com/closeandremote
More information about the project can be found at www.closeandremote.net/we-are-what-we-are