about        index        theory        webshop

Steps (17): Marblestairs.   [nederlands]

A street view image of the hall of the Rijksmuseum, with the marble fake staircase and the real staircase next to it, filled with all kinds of visitors in rows and sitting on the fake stairs and walking on the real stairs.

In times of confusion, it's hard to remember to take a picture. So this time you have to make do with this weirder G.maps image, taken by someone at the Rijksmuseum, showing the cloakroom on the left and the stairs to the exit on the right. This photo is from 2017, i haven't been there for a while so i have no idea if it's as crowded again by now. This photo was taken during the day, while my narrative takes you to a moment of complete silence at least in this part of the museum. A friday evening, i was very honoured to be invited to the opening of a new exhibition, as part of the design competition i had entered some year before. There was a masterclass by a well-known designer, which was more of a lengthy talk; the man seemed a bit tired. Before that started at all, the invited guests, some 200 people after all, had already been standing around for more than an hour drinking, chatting and eating nuts. So when, after all the talking and lecturing, the official opening finally took place and we were advised to have another drink and visit the exhibition, i didn't let myself be told twice: i was actually done talking.

Unfortunately, i don't have a photo of that situation either: it was in the Rijksmuseum's new extension, on the ground floor, next to a wide staircase to the first floor, which had been highlighted for the occasion in that year's Pantone colour: a beautiful magenta that by now should not be missing in any interior light.
Upstairs was an exhibition, and i don't remember my god what it was, but it was interesting and so i excitedly headed upstairs, assuming everyone else would; i mean: the exhibition had just opened! As i climbed the stairs, i saw the tired artist a little ahead of me also walking up, followed a few steps down by a woman. Only halfway up the stairs did i look down into the hall, and to my dismay i saw that no one, absolutely NO ONE had gone up. A room filled with 200 people, and i was the only one walking enthusiastically towards the exhibition, bathed in Pantone Magenta to subtly draw attention to my appearance.

There was no way back, i realised immediately. Going back would be even more conspicuous, so i strode upstairs as gracefully as possible. Once there, the designer ahead of me looked back at me and let his exhaustion be overcome by contempt. Did he think i was following him? My god! He got the dignitaries on him, allowing me to escape to the beginning of the exhibition, where the 2 slumped attendants were shocked to discover that someone had already come upstairs. Quickly they jumped into line and into the fold and smiled as amiably as they could with fresh cramp in their calves. As i let my eyes adjust to the dark, i was overtaken by the company of designer and Rijksmuseum people. I had to do my best not to get close to them, because if, in an uninvited moment, i did, i got another dismissive look: know your place, you creep of the failed cuddlers, and so i slowly made my way through the dark halls, like a shadow in the history of a closed museum. I would have preferred to descend all the way down to the basement exhibition, to the two giant guards, overwhelmed by all the emotions of the evening. Only to be discovered at dawn, completely petrified and galvanised into an idol of lesser proportions, but still: an idol.

That i descended the magenta stairs, everyone appeared to have disappeared, and i wondered if i had entered a time vacuum. What was going on anyway? How could it be that i remained completely out of sync? Why did i never understand these things anyway? Downstairs, a nervous man stood at a bar table organising his briefcase. He looked at me, i smiled kindly; i had forgotten that there are people who can't stand that, and his angry look gave me the cue: enough of this theatre, i was going home.
Through an otherwise deserted museum hall, i walked to the cloakroom. I would have liked to dance around among all the marble and silence, but of course knew there would be at least three pairs of eyes on me from surrounding cameras, and so i held back.

The young man at the cloakroom couldn't have ended my evening in better style: he acted annoyingly smart, watched me very much and for too long as i buttoned my cardigan, and when i grabbed a leaflet from a pile, he said snarkily that he had just wanted to hand it to me. Probably i was now the person with the jaded look, because he otherwise shut up and wished me a good evening. Of the same and i paced towards the exit, towards what i thought was a staircase and took the first step and the second and... the second step was way too high for stairs. What the hell was this? I took another step and then it appeared that i was standing on more of a faux pas or a misstep or a fake staircase. Was i imagining it, or did i hear soft chuckling somewhere? Did i hear all sorts of cameras turning my way. A wave of affection flowed towards this sucker on trainers who entered the marble as if it were a climbing paradise. Dignified, i climbed off the fake steps, and found the real staircase. I was evidently marble-blind, turned on the spot just like that.

At the exit revolving door stood a man in suit, with earpiece, i just saw his mouth move and smile and pull himself back into the fold as i approached. I smiled sweetly and he smiled back just as sweetly, which somewhat made up for everything. The cameras turned back to their default positions, the shutters could be down, the floors waxed. As for what happened to the other 199 people: i never heard from anyone again, and i've suspected a Rijks triangle of mysterious disappearances there ever since.

DatumTijd: 2023 sep 19, 16:58 CET
LatestEdit: 2023 sep 19, 16:58 CET
Auteur: Mulder


 Locations: Rijksmuseum 
 Photography: Hannah Celsius 
 Steps (overview) 
 Stories: Steps 

© 2023 hannah celsius