You can’t run, but you can hide (2022)

“‘You can’t run, but you can hide’ by Melle Nieling is an immersive installation that delves into the interplay of physical and perceived reality. Anchoring the piece is a prominent corner, a spatial element that both hides and reveals, and a pair of conspicuously non-functional emergency exit doors. The doors, seemingly a portal to safety, but inoperable, serve as a critique of the symbols that populate our world, and the narratives they engender. The work prompts an introspective journey into the mechanisms by which we fabricate our own realities.

The installation also employs a nuanced layer of humor to destabilize the authority of these ubiquitous symbols. Nieling’s decision to render the emergency exit doors non-functional is a deft commentary on the illusion of escape and the paradoxical nature of freedom. It’s a subtle invitation to the viewer to examine the authenticity of symbols that govern our lives, and the spaces that contain us.

The emergency exit doors in the installation invite comparisons with the telephones used in the Matrix series to transition between the digital and physical realms. In the cinematic universe, these devices offer an escape from the artificial construct of the Matrix. Similarly, Nieling’s doors suggest a potential egress from our perceived reality. Yet, the promise is hollow; the only escape offered by these doors is into an imaginary hallway, a metaphor for the constructed nature of our realities.

A smaller, more intricate component of the installation, titled ‘You can’t play, but you can plug’, features a simulated piece of wall. It is a palimpsest of different paint types, nails, staples, and tape, mimicking the worn and layered walls of art academies. The wall, once a mere background, is thus elevated to the status of an artifact of creative endeavor. A long rubber cable is plugged into a socket on this wall piece, snaking its way around the space, ultimately disappearing under one of the emergency exit doors. This element adds a dynamic thread, further challenging our understanding of space and the dichotomy between the visible and hidden, reality and pretense.”

Jürgen Zeller, December 2022

The creation of You can’t run, but you can hide was made possible in part through contributions by the Mondriaan Fonds, stART Foundation, and Pictoright Foundation.

installation, walls, emergency exits, exit lights, cable, 250 x 250 x 250 cm