Mezzaterra could either mean middle ground or common ground. I prefer common ground. It is an imagined territory, an idea, but a very real and pervasive one, where echoes and reflections add depth and perspective, where identities are malleable and overlapping and not clear cut and well defined, where binaries are not the only defining theme.
The rewards of inhabiting the mezzaterra are enormous because it is teeming with possibilities. It endows each thing with ‘a patina of the old and shine of the new’*. The lack of definitive answers to every question and accepting certain answers over others do not foreclose the possibility of contestation, the existence of other answers.
Being eclectic is not passé: you take the best and make it part of your language without feeling apologetic. It means you inhabit more than one language or culture at any given time. You are both inside and outside of language, of culture. Your stance cannot help but be both critical and empathetic.
This hospitable mezzaterra, where differences enrich rather than clash, is our civilizational legacy. It is under attack from all sides and needs to be defended.
* I remain indebted to Egyptian writer Ahdaf Soueif for her eponymous book “Mezzaterra : fragments from the common ground”.
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Threshold Art Gallery
C221, Sarvodaya Enclave, New Delhi, 110017