The Space Between You And Me is a powerful art installation that moves people who experience it. It’s a captivating exhibit, managing to express what it’s like to have Tourette Syndrome through footage of interviews with youth with TS and interpretive dance inspired by the disorder, all projected onto a series of transparent and semi transparent screens and mirrored in various reflective materials. At a recent exhibition attended by hundreds of students, one teenager said that The Space Between You And Me had “changed her.” Evidence of the profound effect this project has on teenagers can be found in a blog on the official project website, where teens share their own inspired thoughts and feelings on a range of issues.
Why does The Space Between You And Me strike such a chord with teenagers? No doubt it has something to do with the installation’s theme, and the special young person who sparked its creators. From the official website:
Paige Tomashewsky, the teen who inspired the creation of the project, suggested the title for The Space Between You And Me.
Paige’s TS has forced her at times to keep a space between herself and others for their protection. Students always left a space around her at assemblies and in line-ups. Although she always understood the need for this, it was still very painful. Even given these boundaries she has a lot of friends who know the price of being in her space but they willingly accept it.
The space is the physical and emotional gap that TS creates for Paige. Sometimes it is to protect her from people’s judgments or to protect others from the dangers her tics can cause.
Teens, whether or not they have TS, are made aware of the challenges faced by others through this fantastic work, and are invited to empathize with one another as well as recognize and acknowledge their own challenges. The Space Between You And Me was launched in 2008 in Edmonton, Alberta, a collaboration between Bob Lysay, then instructor of video production at MacEwan University, and Agnieszka Matejko, an artist and fellow MacEwan instructor. Since then, thousands and thousands of Canadians, both young and old, have experienced the installation, including in 2009 at the National Conference on Tourette Syndrome Plus. Says Ms. Matejko:
We have been amazed by the response. Yesterday [October 2nd, 2013] at Victoria Composite High School about 200 students came and today was much busier. We were far too busy to count classes, but perhaps there were 300 students just today – and many of these students are doing projects based on the installation so they are absorbing the information. So, my rough estimate is that at a minimum a thousand students have seen this in the last two weeks.
What is truly gratifying is the response of the students. We have been speaking to all classes and sometimes it’s hard to stop the conversations—many students raise their hands and want to contribute. It seems that this whole issue of diversity is very important to children and teens.
The Foundation is grateful to Agnieszka and Bob for their continued amazing efforts to raise TS awareness among young Canadians, and look forward to hearing more about the tremendously positive effects it’s having wherever it appears. For more information, please visit the website for The Space Between You And Me here.