The amazing work 'We're Here Because We're Here' marked the centenary of the first day of the Battle of the Somme, and it could have been so many things.
In the end, this work was a little bit of each but more than anything, it was an experience.
The artist took a risk that there would be inherent power in placing young men in current settings, with no explanation. Just a bit of eye contact, and a card carrying the identity of a soldier killed in the battle, should someone choose to interact with this living tribute.
Seeing this last year reminded me that experiential is still, and always will be, one of the most amazing channels through which to reach people. Of course it is. You don't tell them what to think. You just present them with something and let them see and feel the message for themselves, and take it in through their own lens.
This was a beautiful, simple idea and it will, I think, always be one of my most admired pieces of experiential work.
This Creative Review interview with the artist, done by historian Jon Snow - and the images in it - are well worth a look.
JD: I wanted to make a memorial that was alive, not an object or set of objects to make a pilgrimage to; a memorial that would come to you, that would appear in your city, town or shopping centre, intervening in your daily life. We consciously avoided churches, war memorials, castles, cathedrals; we just had to get out of heritage Britain. I was interested in having the soldiers moving through a contemporary UK for the maximum visual effect. It was as much about today as it was about 1916. So it had to be kinetic, unexpected – and human. JS: You decided to wander through places rooted in people’s everyday lives. Weren't you asking quite a lot of the authorities? JD: Well my rule is never ask permission for anything, because there’s a very good chance it won’t be given.