PERSONS AROUND THE TABLE
Marguerite de Ponty
Glenn Herbert Gould
Wladimir Iljitsch Lenin
Hans van Meegeren
Silas Weir Mitchell
Cristiana Cott Negoescu
Michael H. Branch
Bik Van der Pol
William Butler Yeats
Hans Bernd Becher
Richard T. Gagnon
Thomas Artur Spallek
Our disparate group gathered around the medium’s table and used the séance as a frame to compare the present with the past and to bring the past into the present. Our encounters provided images, symbols and scenarios which will appear here as they make themselves known to us over the coming Semester.
‘My little play The Words upon the Window-pane came to me … as a reward, as a moment of excitement.’
(W.B. Yeats, preface to Variorum Plays)
The séance takes place in a single room, ‘Raum 106’ in the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf. A long black table, chairs either side. An arched window, a staircase, a projector. A door to the back. Through the door is a spacious hallway and more windows. Slowly over a full Akademisches Viertel the participants come into the room, take off their coats and gather around the table. Some stand by the window.
(A participant, upright and rigid, only her lips moving, and in a man’s voice) ‘I am glad to meet all my dear friends again and to welcome Mr. Yeats amongst us. As he is a stranger I must explain that we do not call up spirits: we make the right conditions and they come. I do not know who is going to come; sometimes there are a great many and the guides choose between them. The guides try to send somebody for everybody but do not always succeed. If you want to speak to some dear friend who has passed over, do not be discouraged. If your friend cannot come this time, maybe he can next time.’
(Speech is provoked. The participants call out for a face and a voice to appear. Altogether) ‘Haunt me’, ‘Speak to me’, ‘Look at me’, ‘Listen to me’.
The participants were all sceptics once. Their motives vary, some use this everyday séance as a means to enable the words to come, some seek the future in the past, some seek to actualise the present and some seek escape from time altogether.
(A knock on the table. Altogether)