Stuck in the Middle With You |Anki Deo

AB = {x : x A and x B}


Mathematically, it’s nothing more than AB. A relation of sets, clinically describing a space that a person could occupy. That place is so much more than that, when it’s inhabited and occupied and cherished and even, at times, abandoned.

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In semantics, we talk about the intersection of two circles as representing just one truth value, one combination of possible worlds. Everyone has made a home in their own intersection, their own combination, and with this comes an opportunity to tap into something so fundamentally unique, so comfortingly unknowable. Just because it’s the only space doesn’t make it a lonely space, it’s a place where only you have been and lived and a feeling that this is true of everyone else too.



third space provides a scope and capacity for the stories of BME people to be brought to life in a way that takes back control of narrative threads that get snatched away all too often.


Photo credit: Kevin Low

There is a fundamental difference between the act of exhibiting and the act of exposing: one is willed, possessed, directed; the other leaves you feeling vulnerable and bare.


Photo credit: Kevin Low

The experiences of people of colour – and especially women and non-binary people of colour – are all too often commandeered and interpreted away from our grasp. This space is an anchoring wrist around which to wrap the string of your balloon knotted around it, floating away safely. The women and non-binary people of colour I have had the pleasure of meeting during my time at Cambridge have never stopped bowling me over with their strength, sensitivity, yearning, belonging, celebration and sorrow. I have known only a small part of their intersections, and it has been a privilege.


Photo credit: Kevin Low

I should never have underestimated the power and relief that came with being given explicit permission to exhibit in a way that allows you to control the degree of the relationship of your race to your work. In the words of the British-Ghanaian artist Lynette Yiadom-Boakye: “Race is something that I can completely manipulate, or reinvent, or use as I want to. Also, they’re all black [the figures in her paintings] because…I’m not white.” Her portraits of imagined people are improvisations and interpretations of everything she has seen and done before. Like a novelist, she collects a little of someone here, a bit more over there, building up a character profile that is nuanced and dense. This amalgamation of a life lived feeds so honestly and purely into a representation of selfhood that she owns and tends to, lovingly and unashamedly.


In English, when something doesn’t quite go right and there’s nothing left to blame, we say “a bad workman blames his tools”. In Hindi, the equivalent expression is “he who knows no dance, claims that the stage is tilted”. The stage is set for you, a level plane. You all know how to dance: beautifully, uniquely, but in this context, never exotically – your lived reality must not be put in a cage, it can only be framed by you.

event cover finished

The third space exhibition is an annual BME art exhibition aiming to showcase the work of those who are caught in a liminal zone of modern society. This year, it will take place on the 26thof January 2019.

Submissions are now open – please take a look at the third space page on Facebook and give it a like to stay up to date with the latest news and find more information about submitting to the exhibition.




Willow Strip, 2017. Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, Oil on linen



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