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Exhibition ME/YOU, US/THEM. Opening Soon: 12 April - 30 June 2024

‘How to live together’ is a fundamental question of our human existence. Today we live in a reality where our lives are more closely intertwined than ever, yet simultaneously, we are becoming more and more deeply divided. Not just because of the multitude of identities crowding our world, based on country, region, tribe, religion, culture, social class, or skin colour: not just because of ‘Us and Them’. Also because of ‘Me and You’: because we live in a world where people as individuals are increasingly unable to get along, from fighting their nextdoor neighbours, to opposing anyone with a different opinion or background, to the growing fear of strangers – of anyone who is other. The exhibition ME/YOU, US/THEM is on show from 12 April until 30 June 2024 at droog.

In this world, characterised by an unprecedented level of global connectivity, governments are reinforcing borders and building new walls and fences, while social and economic inequalities persist and grow. The exhibition ‘ME/YOU, US/THEM’ presents the work of artists, designers, and architects reflecting on the complexity of the many coexisting identities and addressing the concepts of ´me´ and ´you´, ‘us’ and ‘them’, and how we do, or do not, get along.

The exhibition examines the issue of ‘how to live together’ on a scale ranging from the border politics of nation-states to the interactions between individuals. Truly living together involves recognizing that diversity is not merely to be tolerated, but to be celebrated. By valuing and embracing diversity, societies can unlock their potential for innovation, creativity, and social progress. Ultimately, it all starts with our willingness, or unwillingness, to live together in a world full of contradictions.

In 2012, based on these principles, Droog and Erik Kessels created the project ‘Identity Land’: a space for a million identities, a concept for a fictional society which could emerge anywhere and everywhere. Now, 12 years later, with immigration, nationalism and nativism on the rise, conflicts between countries and regions exploding, and online filter bubbles accelerating polarisation, the themes and ideas of Identity Land continue to be relevant.

Identity Land envisioned a world where the nation state no longer provides the framework for identity. Instead it accepts that people desire both an individual and a collective identity. Playfully, the project proposes a manifesto for an imaginary society while also offering a replacement for the usual national symbols: the portrait of a queen, king or president on a coin has been polished down to a mirror, the flag has become transparent, and the anthem is a medley of all the world’s anthems. They illustrate non-identity, hyper-individual identitiy, fluid identity and plural identity.

Identity Land was the starting point for this exhibition. Twenty international artists, designers and architects explore the notion ME/YOU, US/THEM on various scales: from national border politics to migratory patterns in nature, from the influence of algorithms on our online behaviour to physical interactions between individuals. Danae Stratou photographed the lives of people living in regions marked by dividing lines, such as the Green Line in Cyprus and the border between Mexico and the US. Shilpa Gupta’s flag, made with words of tape reminds us that the sky has no borders, as does Desiree Dolron’s photographic tracking of the Monarch butterfly’s flight paths. While Efrat Zehavi is slowly but surely building a body of work in which she portrays a variety of individuals, modelling their portraits while having a conversation with them; during the opening days, she will do this as a performance in the exhibition. Artworks by: Ariane Loze (BEL), Aukje Dekker & Sexyland (NLD), CATPC (DRC), Danae Stratou (GRC), Desirée Dolron (NLD), Edith Dekyndt (BEL), Efrat Zehavi (ISR), Erik Kessels & Droog Design with Hans van der Meer and Helmut Smits (NLD), Francis Alÿs (BEL/MEX), Garry Davis (USA), Heather Dewey-Hagborg (USA), JR (FRA), Marije Vogelzang (NLD), Martin Creed (GBR), Rael San Fratello architects (USA), Shilpa Gupta (IND), Sunny Dolat & The Nest Collective (KEN), Tania El Khoury (LBN), Theo Deutinger (AUT).

Untitled (There is no border here), 2005-2006 © Shilpa Gupta

The Sea By Night, 2023 © Aukje Dekker with Sexyland

Portraits, since 2007 © Efrat Zehavi

Monarch, 2018 © Desiree Dolron

Teeter-Totter Wall, installation on location at the US-Mexico Border, near El Paso, Texas and Juarez, Chihuahua, 2019 © Rael San Fratello


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