If I were allowed to touch the paintings, I would trace the lines with my fingers, so I could experience the decisions made by Mr Chabot. His emotions stand out from the surface. If I were to make a painting, I would want it to be entirely flat. I would make an effort not to see any shadows. Yesterday I stood waiting for a taxi in the shadows: “So nice you’re only wearing your leotard.” I gave her a smile and had to make an effort to see her eyes. But otherwise no words passed between us. A boy once told me that glitter and sweat were running down my cheeks. We looked at each other over that gleam and turned circles around each other. But yesterday I was all by myself, above the crowd on a pedestal. I closed my eyes because I didn’t want to see the flashing light. Each stroboscopic moment can reveal a look of disapproval or envy. Nothing gleamed any more when I was in the taxi. It was too dark for that.

No matter whether I stay in every night or walk from my lectures to a bar and on to a club, the next day the Chabot Museum with its rough paintings and white walls will still be there in the same place. I make eye contact with the volunteer when I walk out again. Grey clouds have been hanging over Rotterdam the past few days. The sky has pulled down the roller blinds. For a short while there are no shadows. I quietly breathe in the sunless air and walk on.

Giselle Timmers 4_2023_2560_Pauline Wiersema_Levien Willemse

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