Marina Black: When The Room Becomes Water
Portfolio Introduction
The asylum… The Room… I remember the doorknobs more than anything. The nurse would enter and exit the Room and take the doorknob with her. I have replayed this scene hundreds of times. I am fifteen years old. When I cross the threshold of this building, accompanied by my sister, the first thing the doctor tells me is, ‘the symptom of good health is a normal sound sleep. How did you sleep today?’ This is the time, after many sleepless nights, when I don’t want to wake up. I’ve considered myself normal but sometimes I can’t fall asleep. And the body crumbles like an old piece of bread. And then… the Room. The fog. Howling voices, cutting across the hallway of the mental ward. Here I am. Without a clue how I used not to be. It is very small - two doors, a bench in between and a narrow pit opening of the window with yellow-painted bars by the ceiling. I am on the bench, waiting. The doors are locked from outside. I watch the window. How did I get here? What happens afterwards? The deadened details of the past have been magically erased. There are only flashbacks - the fog that couldn’t help itself. Insomnia, depression and anxiety are dog-eared friends that follow around, turning, restless to lie down. They chase you into water and you are almost drowning in a garbled flotsam pillaged here and there. Almost. The photographs from these series, after all, may give some idea of the thing from outside. The nights - recurrences portioned out of the water, as gods, but dressed as the beggars are huddled against the gate of a garden - to which they can never be admitted. This is what I was born to, not so much to the sunlight. Stanza by stanza into the world, singing, as best as one can - sadder, perhaps, I am bowing to the powerlessness in the face of it all.

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