Hopes and Fears
2008 – 2009
Hopes and Fears was a long project.
When I got to London it seemed like everyone was going around thinking big things. Lots of furrowed brows, lots of staring into space on the tube and on buses. I wondered what everyone was thinking, because it seemed to be important. I decided to find out what London’s hopes and fears were, the things that were keeping us all up at night.
It was simple: For just over a year I distributed flyers around London. One side was black on white and said SEND ME YOUR HOPES with a text number and a web address. The reverse was white on black and said SEND ME YOUR FEARS with a text number and a web address. Hope and fear are not binary opposites, and, I suspected, two sides of the same coin. I wanted to know what London’s hopes and fears were.
Thousands of people submitted completely anonymous responses by text and web. The responses were a litmus test of what everyone was worrying about, and at the time in London it was largely the impending economic meltdown, but it was also countless other things – friends, family, future, past, insecurities.
All responses were agless, sexless, faceless, classless. They could belong to anyone, of any age. They were poignant in their honesty, brutal in their truth, beautiful in their optimism. What did strike me, however, was how negative many of the hopes were; it seemed, at that point in time at least, that London was only hoping that bad things wouldn’t happen.
The experience of collecting the responses was great, but it needed a final printed product. I wrestled with this for a long time, and finally settled on a deck of printed cards – black for fears, white for hopes, a selection of 25 of each. Each the same size and weight, lending equal importance to each hope and fear.
I will be carrying out this project in various cities worldwide. Get in contact if you’d like to help me carry it out where you live. You can see the online version at HopesAndFears.net.
(This project was generously supported by the Canada Council for the Arts and the Ontario Arts Council.)