Reflecting Room for Hypnotic Show at dOCUMENTA 13 , Kassel June 6-Sept 17 2012
These are images of how the reflecting room came into existence following my visit to Breitenau concentration camp, in which one of the solitary confinement rooms with frosted windows was called the Reflecting Room. The structure explores the idea of mental reflecting and literal reflection, while priming visitors for the Hypnotic Show to suspend preconceived notions about reality for a moment.
This project developed for dOCUMENTA(13) stems from collaborative work with Raimundas Malasauskas, curator, artist, writer and agent of dOCUMENTA(13). The project includes a collaborative contribution by Sissel Tolaas.
dOCUMENTA (13), a cultural event of world standing opens to the public in Kassel on June 9, 2012. For 100 days, over 150 artists from 55 countries and other participants from around the world will gather and present artworks, including sculpture, performance, installation, research, archiving and curatorial projects, painting, photography, film and video, text and audio works as well as other objects and experiments in the fields of art, politics, literature, philosophy, and science.
The hypnotic inductions within this space conduct a remodelling of Malasauska’s book, Paper Exhibition. The writings have been divided into three principal topics: situation, sensation and operational construct. The visitor chooses one segment from each topic from a synesthetic ‘menu’, and then enacts them in his or her brain during individual or group hypnotic séances, conducted by Marcos Lutyens.
Hypnotic Show is not exactly a therapeutic procedure – it is more like a porous space between sleep and consciousness, to be shared by a small group of people while amnesia and language embrace. Or, as a former participant put it, this is an intimate space of perceptual doubt, where ‘imagination becomes so dense that it literally morphs into things imagined’.
The text from Paper Exhibition has now become a holographic recombination lock, a kind of Enigma Machine in which each fragment becomes a living reflector of the whole. ‘This is my favourite moment when a picture starts transforming in front of you, together with you, not when you come back to it and realize that something has changed ’. The process is akin to an origami model, where non-contiguous elements are folded into new avenues of possibilities.
The structure of the cabin in which the inductions take place was informed by Lutyens’s visit to Breitenau Concentration Camp. On the camp’s top floor, in what later became a women’s correctional facility, there was a so-called Reflecting Room, in which inmates were placed in solitary confinement to ponder their wrongdoings.
A scent created by Sissel Tolaas can be received in this Reflecting Room: a non-referential scent drawn from an experience of time, rather than one of aroma or taste. It is an olfactory gesture towards a future, inevitable moment. It is as if, seeing your parents after a break of forty years, your future flashes in front of you in a life-size, petrified second.
Additional Credits: Design and Construction