How well can you truly know, understand, empathise with, or deeply feel for another person? Where does the boundary between you and the other lie? To what extent do you need the other in order to define yourself? These questions serve as the starting point for Meet Me in the Middle, a group exhibition with works by Gerrit van Bakel, Hadassah Emmerich, Yoko Ono and Rita Ponce de León that explore the physical and mental space between people.
Put together in an associative manner, Meet Me in the Middle shines a light on feelings that are more or less familiar to us all but are difficult to put into words: profound understanding of or by another person, sudden affectionate recognition, deep empathy, physical desire. And on the other side of the coin, awkwardness, the inability of two people to truly get close, incomprehension, alienation.
This exhibition brings together four artists who are worlds apart in terms of time, space and working methods but all explore relatively deep, intimate forms of human contact or incite the viewer to do so. Yoko Ono’s instruction pieces act as a connecting thread in Meet Me in the Middle, taking visitors for a mental walk in which ideas about individuality, connection, and being together are offered up in a range of poetic ways. Rita Ponce de León’s work starts with the artist stepping completely into the inner worlds of people around her. Out of this identification she creates dreamlike, surreal drawings that, in turn, appeal in an intuitive way to the viewer’s imagination.
The work of Hadassah Emmerich and Gerrit van Bakel focuses much more on the physical aspect. In a single image, each of Emmerich’s sensual paintings lays bare the accessibility as well as the inaccessibility of the other. Van Bakel’s approach can be seen as an acknowledgement of all our inabilities and shortcomings and, at the same time, an effort to compensate for them. He seems to reach out to the viewer through his sculptures, which he literally called ‘accessories for encounters’. In the artist’s words, ‘an encounter is a removal of boundaries’.
This exhibition was curated together with Judith de Bruijn.
For the event Mutuo/Mutual, organised within the context of Meet Me in the Middle, Rita Ponce de León invited visitors to engage in a conversation to explore the mental boundary between yourself and the other. What does it mean when you speak out the words, or even the thoughts, of someone else? And what’s it like to hear this other person pronouncing yours?
Meet Me in the Middle was accompanied by a catalog written by Judith de Bruijn and Madelon van Schie.