Secret Beyond the Door



Spark Vienna

Text: Titania Seidl

She enters the room on her toes, taking cautious steps forward, edging her body forward into a half-lit hall. The light coming in from behind her illuminates curious parts of the objects furnishing the long cavernous space, she can only partly recognize what they are, as if slowly realizing the person you’ve just been introduced to is a long-lost childhood friend. The post of a lamp, the edge of a chair, a full, amorphous coat rack. The door slams shut behind her and as she turns, she looks at the motel door she had entered through just moments ago. It seems out of place to her, disproportionate in the space, that seems to have expanded during the brief moment she had had her head turned away. But this could be caused by the deepening darkness, an illusion caused by the now total absence of daylight. The corridor stretching out in front of her seems endless.

Its walls are lined with round windows on each side.

She thinks there’s light coming in through them, so she moves towards the stretched space. The fabric of her skirt rustles with each step, she touches the semi transparent pleats and wonders where she got it. An eerie feeling, as if the body she’s moving forward isn’t hers, who is she to command it?

Her train of thought is interrupted as she approaches the windows.

A few steps away, she pauses to look at the view facing her.

Is she looking out or in?

The scenes in each window feel to her like looking out of a train grinding slowly to a halt, just before arriving at a station, when for a brief moment, you can catch a glimpse into someone else’s life - or more accurately, you can see the sets that the intimate narratives of their lives will play out it, but they themselves remain anonymous to you.

Some of what she sees seems close, as if she could almost reach through the opening and touch it - or is it an opening at all, she wonders, as she is confronted by a bright light shining in her face, or rather a round mirror? But then she realized that her own hand doesn’t hold a flashlight.

Her steps slowly lead her from one circle to the next, she marvels at the glimpses she catches - of what? Rather, she can almost feel the things she’s looking at in her limp fingers, as if she’s running them over soft flower petals or the hard metal of a key lying on the soft tuft of carpet. Every scene seems to her to be bathed in a different kind of light. The same room at various hours of the day? With green or red curtains drawn that tint the sunlight? As she progresses, she tries reading them like a book with pages missing. Or a film in a language she doesn't speak but likes to hear the sound of. It seems to her that there’s a narrative emerging in what she sees but she wouldn’t dare put it into words, for fear they would make it real.

As she’s taking them in, she increasingly feels like the circles might be pairs of eyes, watching her back. But they are not pairs, she reminds herself, they are not body parts. This might be a sort of ancestral portrait gallery, of scenes rather than of faces, a gallery of moods and atmospheres.

When she has finally arrived at the last of the circles, one that seems bigger to her than the ones before, she knows that she must reach out her hand to touch it. Something inside her is resistant, and so her movement is halting as her hand lifts from her side, reaches out in front of her and stretches her fingers forward, only to pull them back immediately as she sees in horror that the image in front of her is bulging out towards her as if reaching out towards her, too. Her body frozen in mid movement, she feels the roles have been reversed - the viewer congealed, the image moving of its own will.

As she awakes, she first sees the red of the sunlight filtered through her own eyelids.


Titania Seidl, 2022