Intimacy — A group show with Sarah Mei Herman, Martijn van de Griendt, Bertien van Manen en Merel Theloesen
Intimacy is an important part of our relationship with other people, but we all experience it differently. Often incorrectly, as philosopher Jan Drost claims in Het Romantisch Misverstand. According to Drost, few people are aware of the persistent images that dictate us how our beloved should be. These images come from a deep desire for romance. However, romance and love are often confused. According to Drost romance is nothing but the enemy of love. Romance is a series of myths that keep us from a happy and successful relationship.
Nevertheless, each of us holds an intrinsic desire for intimacy, a tenacious need for love and thus intimacy. This need can be fulfilled in different ways; through the Internet, through a camera or through 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 the concept intimacy.
Sarah Mei Herman photographed young couples and adolescents in Xiamen, China, where she initially stayed for an artist in residence and where she shortly afterwards returned for a longer period. In her series Screen Touch, made possible by the generous support of Mondriaan Fund, Herman explores relationships and intimacies between young people. The closeness between them or what sets them apart, and the necessity of physical proximity to others, fascinates the artist. The most fragile and elusive contact between people often seem to exist beyond the reach of language. Herman focuses mainly on adolescents; their constant state of becoming; the fleeting beauty of the continual changes and transitions they go through on their way to adulthood.
“I’m drawn to the intensity, vulnerability and sometimes loneliness of the unpredictable stages of adolescence.” Screen Touch is a result of a collaboration between Seelevel and the Kahmann Gallery.
For his series Exit Wounds (as if)’ photographer Martijn van de Griendt took polaroids of the girls behind his scars and memories, but also of models. The polaroids have become pictures of girlfriends, vamps, muses, close friends and other beauties. He hereby emphasizes their vulnerability and his own insecurities, desires and dreams. Van de Griendt not only photographed acquaintances, he also took polaroids of models in an intimate setting. These are perhaps the women he secretly dreams of. Van de Griendt not only explores the way he experiences intimacy himself, he also investigates in what way intimacy can be a feasible construction.
Bertien van Manen often photographs intimate scenes. In this exhibition she shows three photos, taken in Russia and the Ukraine, in which love rubs and has a sharp and not always pleasant edge. The importance of her work is in the way that Van Manen is able to make a sincere connection with her subjects. She is always searching for personal contact with the people she follows and photographs. This results in her characteristic, direct and intimate portraits. Portraits which are both alienating and familiar at the same time.
Observation is an important element in the work of young artist Merel Theloesen. She tends to look for the border 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 Sao Paolo in Brazil. Theloesen asked couples if she could watch while they were kissing. In this way she explores the boundaries of personal space and intimacy. At the same time, she examines the different ways in which people experience intimacy. Herewith, she often crosses the border of the socially accepted, in a humorous way.