A Moment becomes a place becomes a moment

Words and images by Pedro Soenen.

The image changes.

She is walking down the street in hell, her black bag slung over her shoulder and wearing her sunglasses. She has her steepest heels on, but her pace is unwavering. Everything around her is a greyish blur, a low electric humming emanating from all the people rushing about holding their umbrellas. She doesn’t notice that it’s raining but it doesn’t seem to matter, either. Her ballerina bun is impervious to the rain and her dress remains immaculately matte.
She turns into the alley and walks up to the big iron gate at the end. Although rusty and seemingly very old, it turns smoothly on its hinges once she taps the entry code on her phone, which she fishes from her bag as she approaches the gate.
Now, once again, she’s in.

Her eyes adapt slowly to the flood of light in the big space. The objects in view are white and smooth and boring, the ceiling a vastness of pallidity. She is sitting at her desk looking at the black rectangle of the biggest of her computer screens. She hasn’t turned her computer on yet. Her eyes linger on the blackness, which manages to avoid reflecting any part of her surroundings. She has her headphones on, and the sudden sound of a soft female voice startles her.
“Look at the screen.”
At that moment, the computer lights up and a single message appears on the screen.
She answers back.

The meeting does not go well. Everybody talks and waves at the same time but nothing of consequence seems to happen, no decision is reached. Looks are exchanged, hands twitch, fingers fidget, voices rasp and interrupt each other, the high chairs feel uncomfortable, the light is aching, the air rapidly disappearing. And all this in a generally subdued tone, barely audible. It comes to a point when people start to abruptly get up and leave the small, cramped room, until she is left alone, her senses numb, except for the pain in her head. She misses her sunglasses. The meeting room is not near her appointed space and she takes her time teetering back, lost in thought.
“Look at the screen.”

But she doesn’t know what to answer, none of her puzzles was solved, nobody actually came near to understanding what she meant. Staring at her chair, she realizes it is now made of flesh. She sits down hard, hitting the organic chair with her body, trying to hurt it.
“Look at the screen.”
A second message appears.
She answers it. Then gets up, disentangling herself from the chair.
“Look at the screen.”

The image shows a young woman dressed in black with short hair carrying a bag entering the toilet, closing the door and squatting. She remains still for a long time. Then she retrieves from the bag a small package, folded in paper. She slowly unfolds it, revealing what appears to be a black latex hood. She lets the paper fall and starts feeling the hood with her hands. Then she searches her bag and produces what appear to be earplugs, which she inserts in her ears. She begins to pull the hood over her head with care. It looks very tight and has no apparent openings. After a few minutes she is done, her head and neck fully covered. She pulls down the zip in the back of the hood. She lets her head drop and remains thus clothed and positioned for an unspecified period of time.

She is alone and she is warm, immersed. She feels her membraned face and neck and she listens to the Cage-like silence morphing into her breath, her heart. Herself. She wishes the hood were tighter, but laces take a lot of time. She flexes the muscles of her face, grins, moves her head from side to side. Eventually, she begins to detach, to let go, to let the images come. A moment becomes a place. She looks down and sees the algae at her feet, but it’s like someone else watching, another point of view, the point of view of one other. She feels it more than she imagines it, a light tremblement goes through her body, her heart pumps the earth’s sap through her vessels, she becomes a plant, a source, a self-contained energy with such purpose that frightens and humbles men. She stands hollowed of meaning, for that meaning is imposed on her by others; she stands anew, fresh, echoing her pure self. She doesn’t have to do anything, she just is.
Now she is ready. Once again.

The image shows an empty street. The rain has stopped. There are no shadows. There is only waiting.

A moment becomes a place becomes a moment


Words and images: Pedro Soenen / @inchmale

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