Mind the gap

T. Eeckhout, 2011

Commuters of London Underground are daily reminded of ‘the Gap’. A platform gap is the space between a train car and the edge of the station platform. Warnings are given in different ways, visually as a text “Mind the Gap” and verbally as a spoken message.  Their constant repetition in all underground stations has an hypnotizing effect on the commuters and actually no longer contains the real threat hidden behind those famous three words.

Mind the Gap is the title, which Dolores Bouckaert and Griet Dobbels have chosen for their collaboration between 2008 and 2013. In a strange way, the gap symbolizes the Emptiness or the Nothingness frequently present in art, especially since Malevitch´s enigmatic black square. Many art works provoke an existential confusion when one is confronted with their absolute Nothingness. The German artist Anselm Kiefer has already mentioned that art is the permanent circling around something that cannot be told, around a black hole or a crater of which the centre cannot be reached.

Further, in Dolores Bouckaert’s and Griet Dobbels` collaboration, Mind the Gap definitely refers to the gap between both artists, between both their different worlds created by their work. The gap is in a way an expression of a no men´s land. Understanding this gap and searching for different ways to overcome it, are for Dolores Bouckaert and Griet Dobbels the ultimate challenge in Mind the Gap.  

The collaboration between both artists occurred through many discussions, various studio sessions and different exhibitions. The combination of their different personalities particularly leads to interesting and creative results. Mind the Gap has been developed as a persistent dialogue without a final goal. Each result leads to the next: a performance, photographs and pictures, a collage, an installation, a video, a book, an exhibition, etc. In stead of searching for a compromise between their different perspectives, they constantly challenge each other using the perspectives of the other to question and reflect on the own ideas. As a result, a very unpredictable and unlimited creative process is produced.

The performance in gallery Netwerk in Aalst and the exhibition in gallery Jan Dhaese in Ghent were two ways of expressing some of their ideas during their 2 year collaboration.  ”The walk” is a representation of the central metaphor in their work for the search for a better understanding of the other and of one-self.  The solely walk is the motor for developing new thoughts:  the ideas of the artist´s mind are transferred to the viewer´s (preoccupied) mind. The audience is not just a witness of the walk but experiences the ambivalent feelings of loneliness and connection.  The stream of thoughts between the artists as well as between the artist(s) and the audience can either immediately disappear or may stimulate new ideas about life.