Hotel Room

Text

A double bed with clean sheets, two nightstands with reading lamps, a wardrobe, a table and chair. In Bernd Oppl's video Hotel Room we see a hotel room reduced to pure functionality, free of the normal kinds of added aesthetic and technical furnishings.

In film and literature hotel rooms have in the past served to romanticize someone's existence in a kind of limbo, in a drawn-out process of self-discovery they've chosen for themselves. But hotel rooms remain temporary locations for the people staying there, whether stories of high drama, wild romances or forbidden love are involved. The majority are nothing more than plain settings for equally plain, everyday events, intermediate stopovers and anonymous refuges that are each day reset to their original state by cleaning staff and relieved of any and all traces of the previous night.

In Hotel Room this fleeting state is literally frozen: A growing layer of ice covers the unadorned room, the floor, the bed, the furnishings, and lastly the walls. We first witness this metamorphosis in the details, the ice covering the table legs, the milky, translucent layer that spreads over the white sheet. Crystals form, the last drops of water scurry over the walls in dark lines, and the entire room congeals, its state resembling a cave in eternal ice.

The ice seems to come from the room's objects themselves, and the sporadic drips of water defy gravity. Something's obviously wrong with our normal perception.

Everything we recognize in this process of freezing, shown backwards and in fast motion, actually contributes to the increasing immobilization, movement toward motionless, to final preservation.

Oppl's Hotel Room is part of a series of video works for which he constructs scale models of corridors or suites and uses them as settings for his experiments, all of which aim at perplexing our perception in surprising ways.

Gerald Weber