The film Twilight Hotel is a trip in three acts. A person dwells through the corridors of politics, science and activism before arriving at the Twilight Hotel. His meeting with her in the lobby of the hotel is a crucial turning point for both of them. What follows is a great escape.
Twilight Hotel – a film by TRAGIC REALIST FICTION
performance and voice:
Sarah de Graeve and Sam Geuens
Gaston Meskens, Sarah de Graeve and Gert Lariviere
images, concept and direction:
text – Twilight Hotel
The boulevard is swamped with humid thick air and bathes in sunlight. You enter the lobby of the hotel, spacious, air-cooled and dark. You breathe. Outside, life goes on, scarcely populated but in a haze of impatience. Inside, the fumé windows and brown carpets shut out the loud graffiti-coloured scenes from the street. The coolness suddenly unveils the fragrance of the city. The air smells smoky and sweet; a late-afternoon promising odour, announcing life that is waking inside, waiting to come out after sundown.
She stands in the middle of the lobby and waits. She stares at some point behind you. You walk in her direction and she pretends she recognises you. You stand still, in limbo.
‘I am not here’, the woman says. ‘I am not here, you are not here, we are not here. I mean: we did not arrive yet. We wait, dispersed but aware of each other. We try not to look angry. We are not angry’.
You think. The soundtrack from the street dims. You put down your suitcase and search your pockets for a business card.
‘We came from different sides’, the woman continues. ‘We came from different fields, backstreets and squares. We have nothing to report. That is: nothing to each other. You may ask us questions, we may know the answers. We will go back, but only when we want’.
You look behind you and your eyes seek the exit. But the woman walks away. You take your suitcase and proceed to the reception desk to check in.
On the way to the elevator, the woman appears again. ‘The Boulevard of Broken Dreams was only a story. It is fiction’, she says. ‘The palm trees were plastic and the street was going nowhere. It was fake, but that doesn’t matter. Every populated physical environment is décor. Also here, outside. The rubbish in the alleys and on the bare zones of the city is fake. It is put there. The animals are dead and stuffed. The shops are full, but nothing is for sale. Taxis drive in circles and trains shuttle back and forth. People are dressed up, but for no particular reason. It is all sculptured, assembled and pretended’. She pauses. ‘But we can easily take it away if we want, and return everything back to normal’.
The air in the corridor is damped and the ventilator thrums. You put down your suitcase again. ‘Why would you do that?’, you ask. ‘The only thing normal here might just be the desert. The desert that connects the cities. The desert that is enclosed by the continents. We travel through it to escape it, and linger in the fata morganas we construct for each other. We set up decors to hide that there is nothing behind them and to enable ourselves to concentrate on pure encounter. So why would you take it away if you need it for us to recognise you in the first place?’
She stares at you and smiles, for the first time. ‘It is true’, she says. ‘I am here. You are here. And we will come back.’ She steps into the elevator. ‘It was nice to meet you’. She closes the door. You hear the elevator going up, and the sound of the ventilator takes over again. You wanted to tell her that she was right; that the normal she referred to is not the normal you had in mind. That with too much recognition one risks becoming a stale artefact of an ordinary world. That …
You leave the hotel and walk down the street. It is twilight hour. The vivid colours of the day faded and the air smells perfumed but mouldy now. The pavement is crowded with wanderers. They are smiling, chatting and going places. You want to walk and dissolve in them, with them, but the sand blown up by the wind prickles your eyes. You turn left into a side street and turn left again. You are at the back entrance of the hotel and decide to go in, but the glazed sliding door is blocked. A placard stuck on the door attracts your attention: ‘Warning. Temporary zone. No entrance. You are inside already.’