Neon_movingLonging to Be, 2019, Interactive neon light, bench with cushion, five pressure sensors, 1460 x 175 mm (neon), 2200 x 300 mm (bench), Edition of 5


As the word deconstructs, it begins to highlight its inherent complexity, its paradox. Belonging promises connection, community, safety, togetherness, being ‘at home’ with others and with oneself. Whereas longing connotes craving, reaching, striving, a state of discontent with what is now, an unfulfilled need.Longing for more, longing for better, longing for enough. Longing is loneliness.

Be-longing speaks to the post-relational context in which we live. Our human relations are disrupted and diffused by technology’s optimistic promise for us to connect, and thereby, belong. What does it mean to belong in this hyper-networked, cyber-capitalistic post-communal society?

This work formed part of my Masters (MAFA Wits) exhibition in April 2019 at the Johannesburg Art Gallery. The work is an interactive neon sign which engages the semantic tension of the word and very concept of belonging. The sign is triggered by pressure sensors – the ‘be’ is only activated when there are two or more people seated on the bench in front of the sign and when there is only one person or no one on the bench, only the word ‘longing’ shines bright. Through the interactive nature of the work, the viewer is invited to experience the act of isolation and togetherness and its implications.