El Laberinto Perdido

Romy Nayar's unsettling installation

Romy Nayar’s unsettling installation “El Laberinto Perdido” at MetaLES. Click on the image for full-size version.

Back in mid-July, Ziki Questi’s coverage of Romy Nayar’s (with scripts and sounds by Ux Hax) exhibit “El Laberinto Perdido” at MetaLES prompted me to visit it. However, as RL obligations took over, a write-up on this installation was postponed for far too long.

Clocks blocking your way.

Clocks blocking your way.

The region is dominated by a tall castle-like structure that looms forebodingly, built on a massive rocky island – itself surrounded by rocks – in the middle of a still, pitch-black sea. As soon as you walk towards the gate, it becomes evident that this is not going to be a relaxing, romantic walk by the sea on an August sunset; a dead body (or at least that’s what it seems to be) floats in the still, black waters. And then there’s a notice at the gate, with an ominous greeting:

“If you decide to delve into the Lost Labyrinth, your deepest fears and defects will take your control. You will live them again and again and again and…again…No one has gotten out…”

The massive structure consists of corridors and rooms separated by hidden doors, which you’ll have to find by yourselves. There doesn’t seem to be any specific route that you must follow, and some of the rooms you’ll discover by accident. You might even find yourself wondering if there’s a way out of some place you’ve ended up in, and the fact that flying is disabled in the region deliberately makes things more difficult. The entire place is dark. And by “dark”, I don’t mean simply that there’s a lack of light; It’s ominous. It aims to conjure your darkest fears, your nightmares, the things that keep you awake at night, and I honestly believe it succeeds. Despite the solitude of the region, you always feel that something will creep up on you – or that what you see before you will speak and tell you something you know or fear to be true, but hate to admit to yourself.

Which mask is going to cover your captivity?

Which mask is going to cover your captivity?

But the only sounds in the region are the haunting sounds of the things you see; no one will speak to you with words, no one will come up to you. The silence, broken only by the eerie sounds, creates a sense of doubt, ambiguity, unease, and – yes – fear that can’t be easily conveyed with images. In fact, I wonder if my SL photographic skills can do this build justice.

It's a long way to fall, so treat carefully...

It’s a long way to fall, so treat carefully…

A great example of how Romy’s masterful use of immobility, stark contrast between complete darkness and harsh light, and purposefully-designed figures conspire to awaken your fears and failings is what appears to be a throne room.

The throne room

The throne room.

The figure that seems to be the queen literally stares right into you; it doesn’t just look in your eyes, but into your very soul, judging you for whatever you could possibly think she might be judging you for. She’s not welcoming you into her realm; she sits there, examining you, putting you under the magnifying lens of her scrutiny, and exposing your every weakness – to you.

The Queen of... your Inner Darkness?

The Queen of… your Inner Darkness?

Besides death, inner fears and other themes, time appears to be quite prominent in the messages that this build conveys to the visitor. I have already shown a group of clocks blocking your way in a corridor. In addition to them there are two clock-faced figures at the foot of a long stairway that seems to never end.

Clockface

Now, what is the message of this installation? It’s up to you, really. Romy hasn’t provided any clues as to what she wanted to say. The message actually is you. You, along with your inner fears, your failings, your weaknesses, your worries, everything you never wanted to admit about yourself.

The Inquisition?

The Inquisition?

It’s clear that there’s no “feel good” factor in this exhibit, but that’s beside the point. It’s still a great work of in-world art, which I highly recommend. It will stay open until the end of August, so there’s still time for you to explore it.

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See also:

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Shortlink: http://wp.me/p2pUmX-CJ

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