CURTAIN

Made by ANN COXON - June, 1997

CURTAIN was made by Ann Coxon in 1997. It is a white room in a Victorian terraced house with a white muslin drape at the window, which gives a slightly blue light to the room. Around the wall is a repeated wallpaper pattern; it looks like faded flock but was made using sugar and talcum powder. The pattern has been traced from a net curtain and reminds me of the wallpaper I have seen in tacky restaurants. Some of the walls' surfaces have been left blank as if the wallpaper has peeled off with age, or the wall is simply unpapered.

The first thing I notice is the smell of talcum powder; it has seeped through the whole building. Quite subtle at first, it hangs sweetly in the air. Then it becomes cloying, catching my throat and sticking to it, as it sticks to the walls. I feel oppressed in the thick air with the weight of the heavy, pompous pattern closing in on me.

The smell is like a huge cover-up, hiding the damp and papering over the cracks of our fleshs own decomposition and putrefaction. Sinister in the way its pure whiteness masks, it appears at first to be so sanitised, but then betrays the deeper corruption one finds in hospitals and old peoples homes where bad smells and decay are glossed over. The white walls evoke a gallery space - like the 'white cube' gallery gone rotten.

I escape the piece feeling like the protagonist in Charlotte Perkins Gilmans The Yellow Wallpaper (first published 1892). I wonder how long it would have taken the heavy, torturous pattern of the talcum wallpaper to drive me mad. Is it not even now following me, echoing my position - am I not still trapped inside?

Alex Avery