• Special Edition

  • April 20th, 2020 04.20.2020

    In the Waiting Room: Kendall Hill on Silke Otto-Knapp


    Note from the Editor: The following photographic essay and texts were commissioned by artist and poet Kendall Hill for THE SEEN. The images were shot on a medium-format Mamiya 645 and the accompanying poems written by Hill enact the original source material for the title of the exhibition—a poem by Elizabeth Bishop—In the Waiting Room: Silke Otto-Knapp at the Renaissance Society, which took place from January 11–March 29, 2020.

    Kendall Hill, still from photographic essay of Silke Otto-Knapp, In the Waiting Room, at the Renaissance Society, January 11–March 29, 2020. All images © the artist.

    January 10, 1999. A young David Chase brings to air The Sopranos. The opening shot is of Tony Soprano in a waiting room. His head is between the legs of an oxidized statue, giving birth to a new journey for the 7:00pm audience. It’s almost as if his old life is saying “here, he is now your problem to deal with; take him.” The waiting room scene cuts, from now on Tony is seen on other sides of the partition, venting to his therapist—out into the world. I chose not to overlook that such a powerful character waits, is filled with anxiety.

    What is the waiting room? A moment of transition.

    The dreams have been crazy lately. There’s a dryness in the air, a doubt, a gloom about being alive and young right now,

    he says to me over the phone.

    Is there a place to rest out here—how do you find it?

    I have seen this in my father, a desire to move but not to settle. Knowing very well that’s not really home. A distraction can’t be the surface of bliss, the tip of my sweet tongue. Is this world making me feel comfortable, ready to be alive?

    I think I see my evil twin

    lil demon ,

    a couple tens

    I show you mean.

    I show you teeth

    I mean , if you ain’t holding me back,

    I’m mean, I seen it in the mirror

    sometimes, got evil twin

    sometimes, I need it.

    If this was seen

    and I’m all in

    over lost fathers

    you see, this fourth wall

    barging in my ego ,

    stand and feel the vertigo.

    Spit water from a faucet

    up, another mirror

    up, a few pretty sounds

    and night terrors, and

    redscapes – is this evil,

    can’t focus when I’m alone.

    I can’t go , afar from you

    far cry from February

    messing with ax and pick

    looking at 26 poisons

    tryna understand finger work.

    Little master

    look up, and accept it all 

    make my eyes gleam 

    try a tea set,

    granite make up top,

    three glasses, 

    we need this much water.

    My little master

    you beautiful 

    despite lack of future 

    despite a hand 

    two legs around mine 

    I’m thinking 

    has it been this long.

    Between the sunlight 

    Everyone who wanted a crazy life 

    right here. Yes , the sun 

    yes, I’m keeping tabs on ,

    you get it now. 

    Well , between the sunlight 

    yes, between my face

    you’d see my thoughts stay the same 

    my face never moved 

    my heart on vacation 

    legs still kicking 

    mind mending it all. 

    Keeping pity for myself 

    watching the wind blow

    sending and doing good time

    well , at least I’m trying. 

    I’m bold enough 

    looking for evil twin like 

    I’ll show you teeth 

    and how would i know 

    what it like to be adored 

    knocking at your door 

    bold with odor

    Silke Otto Knapp: In the Waiting Room took place at The Renaissance Society from January 11–March 29, 2020.