Tales from the Gallery : The First Image : Ventricle

One afternoon I had nothing to do. That is to say, nothing I found worth my while. So I made my way to the gallery.

Down town, activity was practically nil. So was visibility. A fog, thick and creamy, had descended upon the city. An inconsistent breeze blew wisps of fog along the pavement, occasionally scattering the density and revealing landmarks, and the remains of a carnival. Confetti and streamers, deflated balloons and other various festive artefacts lay strewn in the streets along with broken bottles, half-eaten foods and the odd, forsaken garment. Someone had fun. Banners, stretched across the streets, ruffled in the breeze, their legends anonymous in the fog. I would not have known they were there had it not been for the sound of the lazy beat and flap of the canvas overhead. Few sounds penetrated the fog; those that did were muffled and indistinct. I felt as though I was walking on air. The cool humidity of the fog pricked away at my skin like so many fairy fingers poking me. Shadowy figures would from time to time materialise from out of the fog, only to disintegrate a moment later. The street lights were lit, but their arguments were poor. The fog prevailed.

The fog’s density in the green area around the building was extreme. The gallery grounds lie lower than the streets and the stately structures that flank them. Paths and lawn slope gracefully down to the bottom of the basin where a quantity of bushes, including some lavish flesh coloured rose, grow at the feet of a scattered group of deciduous trees. These have been allowed to grow tall and scored and crooked in a dignified, fabulous fashion, spreading their mighty branches across lawn and path, bush and gallery facade. On bright days this brings on a quaint and subtle play of shadows throughout; in the hot season the gallery grounds are a refuge of cool patches and soft green lights. Indeed, it would be quite a charming little place, if not for the gallery. The gallery is one of these sombre, concrete monsters, seemingly isolate, though situated in the very heart of the city, with minuscule windows, barely noticeable, and with an entrance remarkably Neolithic. Hardly even a building, it looks and feels unfinished, incomplete – a huge stone slab deserted by its sculptor before he even had conceived its nature and who, disillusioned by the enormity of the project, discarded the entire idea.

Well, anyway, at the time I arrived, this fog had the gallery grounds firmly in its grasp and had nestled there thicker than anywhere else, as fog will in lowlands. I had to keep my eayes peeled to the path that led to the entrance and when I did let my gaze stray, I saw bushes and tree trunks partly consumed by fog and leaves and rosebuds coming out of nowhere. Several times was I torn by thorns and twigs that dwelt unseen behind the grey cotton air. I was unnervingly reminded of Michael Ende’s Nothing and half expected the scarlet jaws of the Gmork come rushing out at me at any moment.

Having followed the full length of the path, I was abruptly confronted with the towering entrance. I entered through the portal and descended the steps. The gallery is always open.

© 1994, 1995, 1999, 2003, 2010, 2019 Kirstin Sørensen

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