Being There With Them marked the debut of artist-designer Johan Groenewald, an MA Design graduate at LASALLE College of the Arts.
This interactive solo exhibition is the culmination of a multi-year investigation into the transformative, mediating role of immersive virtual reality in fostering intimate human connection and our sense of place.
The economic and social forces of industrialisation, technological advancement, globalisation and individualism have given rise to mass voluntary migration.
As we venture away from home in search of security, autonomy, stimulation, and self-actualization, we often find ourselves sacrificing the vital elements of community, belonging, affection, and intimacy. This journey away from home can result in a loss of a part of “the self”, the part that derives meaning from intimate relationships, social roles, and deep-rooted connections to places and objects.
Johan approaches his artistic practice from a deeply personal perspective, drawing inspiration from his own experience of leaving his birthplace and the profound impact it had on his identity, relationships, and his concept of “home”.
The exhibition explores how social interactions, enacted through embodied, socially co-present, hyperreal avatars of the designer, his close friends, and family, can evoke emotions tied to a place and create the sensation of being at home.
As you step into this immersive experience, prepare to question the boundaries between reality and fiction, contemplate speculative social futures, and engage with your visceral response to ones and zeros seamlessly masquerading as flesh and bone. Being There With Them invites you to explore the evolving landscape of human connection in a digital age.

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