Subsumed By Darkness

Sacred. Solemn. Deep. Introvert. Cave. Nordic. Black. Insinuation. Eclectic. Severe. Sober. Overwhelming. Wild. Pure. Life. Light. Fulfilment. Words, labels, that come to my head when I think of my experience at Emanuel Vigeland’s Mausoleum.

It is very difficult to describe one’s impressions of a space when these extremely differ from mere description. It is not about the details and elements that create the space, but how these have an impact on your senses. In what way do these details participate in the whole in order to change our perception of space or space itself?

When entering through the small door, after slightly bending my back, my eyes struggle to understand the dimensions of this enclosing space with no windows. Natural light is left behind and I now find myself in the middle, maybe beginning actually, or even end, of a unique dark nave. It takes me a few seconds to become aware of the vastness of the room. I sigh.

It is at this moment when I realize that, as Janne Ahlin says in ‘The epiphany of the bindweed’, I am something very small within something very large. I feel like a child exploring the unknown; the brick rigid building that seemed so obvious is now not anymore.

My eyes haven’t quite adapted to the light conditions yet, so I stop in front of the illuminated part of the wall. The artificial warm lightning is uniformly distributed around the space from the ground and facing the curved ceiling. I turn around and realize that not only what is in front of me is a fresco but the whole room is covered in paint. I recall the stave churches, like the Uvdal stavkirke which I visited recently, built at the end of the XIIth century. The central column is holding all its complexity and bringing it together. Nevertheless, the detailed colourful painting on every single corner of this old building absorbs me in a way that the interesting wooden construction is subsumed by it. Moreover, the lack of light creates a sort of revelation of these paintings. It is not until one has remained in that Nordic space for a while that one can clearly see every composition in a certain detail.

I have a closer look and I begin to distinguish different figures. Death, life, nudeness, Christ, women, creatures, smoke, youth, eroticism; images that are running around my head, rapidly. My thoughts accelerate in the most unsynchronized way I could have imagined when I realize that some minutes have gone past and I still yet have not understood where I am standing.

There are some wooden chairs placed in the middle and I decide to sit down in the most careful way that I have ever sat on a chair before.

I contemplate explicitness.