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Seeded from the words ‘whisper’ and ‘listen’ in English and their Dutch equivalents, 'fluister' and 'luister', the soluble colonies evolve, adapt and spread on waste ground and in urban green spaces. Litter attracts them; some survive for weeks, others only for a few hours. Their DNA is the letter combination 'is', which occurs in every individual organism in the colonies and, as a word in itself, means the same in English and Dutch. The outdoor colonies are photographed several times over their lifespan, making the photographic documentation of their existence a time-based poetry.
This installation was commissioned by Tony Trehy for the Text Festival 2011. The idea to put the colonies in a glass case along with museum items was Tony's. I was unsure at first - the colonies are feral, they're mortal, what will they do in dust-free suspended animation? - but it turned out to be inspired. They're happy little wordies in captivity: they live longer, fade less quickly and have not yet succumbed to diabetes, obesity or depression. They also think it's fun to invent history. Huge thanks to Susan Lord for helping me select items from Bury Museum's archives!