The current group exhibition at Seelevel Gallery in Amsterdam presents four unique views of the concept of intimacy as it can be portrayed in photography and video.
Each of us holds an intrinsic desire for intimacy, a tenacious need for love and thus: intimacy. This need can be fulfilled in many different ways — through the Internet, a camera or physical proximity. The artists participating in this exhibition all examine this intrinsic desire for intimacy. In their photography they investigate how intimacy is experienced by themselves and by others. They explore each in their own way, the subtlety and complexity of this important yet deeply personal concept.
Sarah Mei Herman photographed young couples and adolescents in Xiamen, China for her series “Screen Touch.” She captures the awkwardness of young people transitioning from children to adults, who may crave intimacy but at the same time are wary to let their emotions show. She also reveals 21st century moments of physical isolation, when people are interacting with friends through text messages on their mobile phones.
For his series “Exit Wounds (as if)” photographer Martijn van de Griendt took Polaroids of his girlfriends as well as models. As the series developed over a period of years, the Polaroids have become melancholic pictures: fantasies or embellished memories of girlfriends mix with an assortment of vamps, muses, and close friends. His photos reveal his models’ vulnerabilities as well as his own insecurities, desires and dreams.
Bertien van Manen often photographs intimate scenes of strangers she meets and befriends in her travels. In this exhibition she shows photos of new acquaintances in Russia and the Ukraine, in which love and togetherness hold a sharp and not always pleasant edge. The photographer has a gift for capturing candid, telling moments from inside the lives and relationships of people — as if we’re members of the same family, sitting together in the kitchen, getting drunk, laughing, fighting, and loving.
And finally, the young video artist Merel Theloesen explores that uncomfortable borderline between observation and provocation. During her research, she becomes part of her artwork. In her experiments, people have to deal with her presence, but that presence is often twofold. Theloesen observes, in silence, but is also present in a provocative way. This can be seen in her video work “Lovers,” which she made in Saõ Paulo, Brazil. Theloesen asked the couples if she could watch while they were kissing. In this way she explores the boundaries of personal space and intimacy. This work intentionally creates a sense of unease with the viewer, challenging our own ideas of intimacy, privacy and how we behave in public — as voyeurs or as we ourselves are seen by others as we live in the world.
Editors’ Note: The exhibition “Intimacy” is showing at Seelevel Gallery in Amsterdam through January 30, 2016.